October 22, 2021

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Astra rocket fails to reach space during test launch for US military

5 min read

The third try wasn’t the charm for Astra.

The California Bay Area startup attempted its third orbital test flight today (Aug. 28), sending its two-stage Launch Vehicle 0006 skyward from the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Alaska’s Kodiak Island at 6:35 p.m. EDT (2235 GMT). The rocket suffered an anomaly about 2.5 minutes after liftoff, however, and the flight was terminated.

Something appeared to be wrong from the beginning, as Launch Vehicle 0006 lurched sideways at the moment of liftoff rather than rise smoothly off the pad. But the rocket recovered and soared high into the Alaska sky, reaching an altitude of about 20.5 miles (33 kilometers) before shutting down, according to real-time data Astra provided during a webcast of the launch.

Astra’s Launch Vehicle 0006 slid sideways after launching on an orbital test mission on Aug. 28, 2021. The flight was terminated after about 2.5 minutes. (Image credit: NASASpaceflight/Astra)

The mission was terminated right around “max q,” the point when the mechanical stresses on a rocket are highest. A camera mounted on Launch Vehicle 0006 appeared to show a piece of the booster breaking loose around that time.

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