December 15th, 2020 was a historic day for Astra and America, as we joined a small, elite group of privately funded companies that have made it to space. We couldn’t be more proud that our team accomplished this milestone in the face of so much adversity this year. Only three months after our last orbital launch attempt, we were back in Kodiak with the goal of a nominal first stage burn, followed by fairing separation and stage separation. We achieved all of these objectives and more!
Rocket 3.2 lifted off from the Alaskan coast on December 15th at 12:55 pm PT followed by more than two minutes of a successful first stage flight. A few seconds later, we completed a nominal stage separation and ignition of the upper stage, and blasted past the Kármán line, the border between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space. Almost seven minutes later, traveling over 16,000 miles per hour (Mach 21), Astra’s upper stage engine shut down nominally after depleting all of its fuel. Rocket 3.2 precisely achieved its target altitude of 380 kilometers at 7.2 km/sec… just short of orbital velocity of 7.68 km/sec.
Our data shows that all of the rocket’s hardware and software performed exceptionally well, and that only a small adjustment to the mixture ratio of fuel and oxidizer stands between us and our first customer payload delivery in a few months. Most importantly, this means that Astra can immediately begin delivering for our customers. As of today, we have contracted over two dozen launches, representing over 100 spacecraft. We are immediately executing our plan to ramp up rocket production and launch operations.
Our next rocket is nearly complete and we’ll be identifying opportunities based on Tuesday’s data on how to further improve the vehicle performance ahead of our next launch. This rapid iteration is unique to Astra and separates us from other launch providers in the industry.
To say that 2020 has been a challenge is an understatement and Astra has shared many of the struggles that much of the world has experienced this year. However, we are grateful to close out this year with the outcome of Tuesday’s launch as well as being announced as one of NASA’s mission partners. It is more than we could’ve hoped for as a team. Thanks to our incredible team and their families, as well as our customers, suppliers, partners, investors and all of our fans!
Per Aspera Ad Astra!
Chris and Adam