Astra launched two shoebox-sized NASA satellites from Cape Canaveral on Sunday in a modest mission to enhance storm forecasts, but the second stage of the company’s low-cost launcher failed before reaching orbit, and the payloads were lost. Astra tweeted, “The upper stage stopped down early, and we did not transfer the packages to orbit.” “We’ve informed @NASA and the payload crew of our regrets.”
It was the company’s fifth failure and the seventh launch of Astra’s tiny “Venture-class” Rocket . NASA’s first of three scheduled launches of six mini CubeSats, two at a time, into three orbital planes took place on Sunday. Given the rather dangerous nature of depending on tiny shoebox-size CubeAats and a Rocket with a very limited track record to accomplish mission objectives, the $40 million project only requires four satellites and two successful launches.
The 43-foot-tall Rocket 3.3 Rocket out from pad 46 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, putting on a dramatic spectacle for local residents and visitors enjoying a bright day on surrounding beaches, with its five first-stage engines delivering 32,500 pounds of thrust.