The new satellite delivery and launch company Astra attempted its first orbital launch late Friday evening with mixed results. The rocket, codenamed Rocket 3.1, launched successfully, but did not reach orbit due to a problem with burning in the first stage.
"Successful take-off and departure, but the flight ended during the first phase of the burn," the company confirmed on Twitter. “It looks like we have a good nominal flight time. More updates will follow! "
There was no live video of the launch and only some details are available, but in a briefing, Astra announced that the missile, which was carrying no payload, fell back to Earth and landed in a safe area.
However, Astra was positive about the progress and wrote in a blog post: "Tonight we saw a wonderful start!" and "Preliminary data review shows the missile is working very well." Company founders Chris Kemp and Adam London also said they expected to need three flights before reaching orbit, reflecting the technical difficulties of missile projects.
Even Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, posted his announcements on Twitter, saying that it took his company four launches to reach orbit.
Astra & # 39; s Rocket 3.1 leaves the pad at the Kodiak launch site Astra / John Kraus
Regarding what went wrong, Kemp and London wrote: “At the beginning of the flight, our guidance system appears to have introduced a slight oscillation into the flight that caused the vehicle to drift off its planned trajectory and command the engines were through the flight security system. “To find out more about the problem, the company is analyzing the flight data to determine what needs to be fixed for the next takeoff. This is carried out with an already built vehicle with the code name Rocket 3.2.
If you've never heard of Astra, it's because the startup worked in “stealth mode” for three years during its development and testing phase. Announced earlier this year, the company said ambitiously it would offer rockets for use by satellites for just $ 1 million per launch. The Alameda-based company has raised funds from various Silicon Valley investors to fund its development to date.
Updated September 12: Added rocket landing information.