After wobbly liftoff, Astra Space rocket fails to reach orbit once again

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Rocket builder Astra Space is going for its first launch since the company went public, and aiming to reach orbit for the first time. 

The new space company cut short its first launch attempt on Friday, with the rocket’s engines firing for a moment and then shutting down.

Astra is launching its rocket LV0006 from the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak, Alaska. The launch is the first for Astra to carry a paying customer, with the U.S. Space Force contracting the launch to test a payload under its Space Test Program.

The vehicle stands 43 feet tall and fits in the small rocket segment of the launch market. Astra’s goal is to launch as many of its small rockets as it can, aiming to launch one rocket a day by 2025 and drop its $2.5 million price point even further.

Saturday’s mission, rescheduled after Astra aborted a launch attempt on Friday, tests a variety of upgrades to Astra’s rocket since its last mission in December. While that prior mission made it to space, the rocket ran out of fuel and came just short of reaching orbit.

LV0006 on the launchpad in Kodiak, Alaska.

Astra’s window for this launch runs for 15 days until September 11, so Astra can postpone Saturday’s attempt if needed. A delayed rocket launch attempt, known in the industry as a scrub, may occur for a variety of reasons, ranging from bad weather to a technical issue.

Astra partnered with NASASpaceflight — a space industry content organization that is not affiliated with the U.S. agency — to webcast the launch.

This is a developing story, please check back for updates.

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