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Space

Astra Rocket With NASA Payload Fails After Liftoff

Rocket launch failure

Astra Rocket With NASA Payload Fails After Liftoff

Astra’s Rocket 3.3 vehicle failed after liftoff on Thursday when its upper stage became unstable after separation.

Video onboard the vehicle, which was designated as LV0008, showed that the upper stage started wobbling after it separated from the first stage, three minutes after liftoff. Footage suggests a potential issue with the separation of the payload fairing, which Astra said takes place seconds before stage separation, SpaceNews reported Thursday.

The vehicle was carrying four NASA-sponsored cube satellites for the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites 41 mission. The satellites were supposed to test a drag sail design for satellite de-orbiting missions, space weather models, quantum gyroscopes and in-space inspection technologies. Three of the four satellites were from universities.

The failed launch was the fifth liftoff attempt for Astro. The first three launches, which took place between September 2020 and August 2021, all failed to reach orbit. The fourth launch in November reached orbit but was not carrying a satellite payload.

LV0008 suffered delays due to a range issue. It also experienced a last-second scrub during its previous launch attempt on Feb. 7.

Astra Director of Product Management Carolina Grossman and company CEO Chris Kemp have issued an apology shortly after the failed launch. The company did not provide additional information on the failure.

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Category: Space

Tags: Astra Carolina Grossman Chris Kemp Educational Launch of Nanosatellites 41 launch launch failure NASA Rocket 3.3 space SpaceNews