Astra to launch mission for NASA from Florida next month

The Space Coast is welcoming one other rocket to its shores.

Astra will launch a NASA mission from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in January, the California rocket builder introduced on Monday (Dec. 6). The flight, Astra’s first from Florida, will raise off from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex-46.

“This historic launch site has been prepared for a new commercial launch partner in less than [a] year, which is a tremendous milestone for our combined team and illustrates how SLD 45 sets the pace for access to space,” Brig. Gen. Stephen Purdy, commander of the U.S. Space Force’s Space Launch Delta 45, said in an Astra statement

“SLD 45, Space Florida and Astra have moved at a rapid speed to demonstrate critical and responsive launch capabilities,” added Purdy, who directs the Eastern Range, the group that oversees launches from the U.S. East Coast. “We are excited to welcome Astra to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.”

Video: Watch Astra’s Rocket 3.2 launch on its 1st successful flight

Astra didn’t present additional particulars in regards to the upcoming flight. However, it may very well be
ELaNa 41, which is able to loft 5 tiny cubesats manifested by way of NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites program. Astra holds a contract to launch that mission, whose liftoff has been targeted for the late 2021/early 2022 timeframe.

Astra builds cost-effective, responsive and ever-evolving rockets designed to give small satellites devoted rides to space. The firm, which is predicated in California’s Bay Area, reached orbit for the first time last month throughout a check flight for the U.S. army.

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That mission, and the three different orbital check flights Astra has launched to date, lifted off from the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Alaska’s Kodiak Island. But the corporate has lengthy deliberate to develop its launch operations to a number of websites around the globe. 

For instance, Astra holds a contract to launch NASA’s TROPICS (Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation Structure and Storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats) mission. TROPICS will research hurricane formation and evolution utilizing six cubesats, which Astra will launch over the course of three missions next year from Kwajalein Atoll within the South Pacific.

Mike Wall is the creator of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a guide in regards to the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook

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