Since Astra’s founding in 2016 we’ve been on a mission to Improve Life on Earth from Space® by delivering customer payloads to orbit through frequent and reliable dedicated launches as economically as possible.

Our goal with Launch System 1 was to achieve orbital capability as quickly as possible and demonstrate that we could mass-produce rockets. And we did, by launching incrementally more capable rockets – 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 3.1, 3.2, and finally a series of Rocket 3.3 rockets that made Astra the fastest privately funded U.S. company to reach orbit.

Following the flight anomaly on our last launch, we listened to our customers, our team, and our stockholders and made the strategic decision to accelerate the introduction of a higher performance rocket and add additional testing that we believe will increase the reliability of future launches.

Launch System 2 is our answer to our existing launch customers, and an increasing number of satellite operators around the world, that need affordable and frequent dedicated orbital launch services to enable new space services. These launch services have the potential to unlock next generation communications services, critical national security and defense applications, and a wide range of Earth observation capabilities that will create a healthier planet.

We believe Launch System 2 will provide Astra’s customers the launch services they need, whether that be constellation deployment, constellation management, or responsive missions. Dedicated small launches give satellite operators the ability to deploy their spacecraft directly to their operational orbits and allow them to start providing services and adding value sooner.

Our customers and the broader market were clear about wanting three things from Astra’s new launch system: reliability, increased payload capacity, and an increased launch cadence. Launch System 2 has been specifically designed to address these needs.

While Launch System 1 made Astra the fastest privately funded U.S. company to reach orbit, the goal of Launch System 2 is to build a highly reliable system that we believe can scale to a weekly launch cadence.


While the new launch system builds on the heritage of Launch System 1, Launch System 2 is more than just upgraded hardware – it represents a cultural shift from our primary focus on schedule to a focus on reliability. This launch system is the result of a significant change in how Astra designs, builds, qualifies, and operates our launch system.

While Launch System 1 began its initial development with just a handful of people in a garage six years ago, Launch System 2 is being designed by teams of world-class engineers in a 225,000 sq. ft. manufacturing and testing facility.

We are a completely different company than when we designed Launch System 1 and that shows in the level of investment we’re making into the reliability of this system. The entire system has been scrutinized, and re-engineered where necessary, to support our plans to reliably and repeatably deliver our customers’ payloads to orbit.

This shift encompasses every stage of the development process, with multiple teams in the organization focused primarily on reliability, quality, and system safety. We’re better-resourced across the board than we were during the development of Launch System 1, including the creation of a new System Verification and Assurance team, quality control lab, and failure analysis lab with state-of-the-art testing capabilities.

A reliable launch system is about much more than just a rocket, it’s about creating an integrated system that works seamlessly together. The launch system is comprised of three key subsystems:

- Rocket – the launch vehicle itself, which ultimately delivers payloads into their final orbit
- Ground System – the infrastructure on the pad when Astra launches
- Mission Control – the interface between our operators and the rocket


Rocket 4 builds on the heritage, flight-proven designs, and manufacturing techniques of hundreds of subsystems demonstrated during the successful orbital flights of the 3 series rockets, but there are several key changes to the Rocket 4 architecture.

Increased Size and Capacity

Rocket 4 will stand 62 feet from tip to tail, with a total diameter of 72 inches. This overall size increase allows the vehicle to carry greater volumes of propellant, and in turn deploy significantly more payload mass – with a target payload capacity of 600 kg to mid-inclination 500 km low Earth orbit over the course of the product lifecycle.

Increased Fairing Volume

Rocket 4’s increased diameter provides a dramatic increase in the volume available for our customers’ spacecraft. This increased fairing was designed to fit one ESPA Grande spacecraft, two ESPA spacecraft, or multiple CubeSats – with a maximum height of 133 inches and a maximum width of 67.5 inches.

Updated First Stage Architecture

Rocket 4’s first-stage architecture uses much of the same architecture from Rocket 3.3, with two key updates that will dramatically improve performance and manufacturability. First, the domes are now stamped directly from single sheets of aluminum, reducing weight and streamlining overall manufacturability – which in turn reduces launch costs for our customers.

Second, the first stage engine architecture has been simplified from five battery pump-fed engines to two turbopump-fed engines and will deliver a maximum combined liftoff thrust of approximately 80,000 lbf. Astra is developing and qualifying an upgraded derivative of a previously qualified engine for this application.

Updated Upper Stage Architecture

The upper stage has undergone the largest architectural change from Rocket 3.3. Rocket 4’s upper stage has moved to a full-diameter, common dome design – which aligns production approaches between the two stages – increasing build reliability and decreasing total manufacturing costs. The upper stage is propelled by a turbopump-fed liquid oxygen/kerosene engine delivering ~6,500 lbf. of vacuum thrust. This engine is also a derivative of an existing qualified engine.


One of Astra’s core values is “simple scales”, and that is reflected in the goal to develop an easy-to-deploy, mobile launch system. The ground system has undergone several impactful updates that simplify the system and support scaled launch operations:

- Optimized for improved site turnaround: critical systems have been moved from the launcher into two easy-to-access containers on the launch site, shielding critical components and simplifying maintenance between launches.
- Designed for mobility: despite the overall size increase of the rocket, the launcher and rocket are still designed to fit within standard sized shipping containers, ensuring that Astra’s launch system remains easy to deploy by land, sea, or air.
- Designed for automation: Launch System 2 uses sensors and valves that can detect issues and “report back” to launch operators in real time, flagging anomalies in the system and mitigating issues through early detection.


Launch System 2 provides Astra an opportunity to further improve the interface between our Launch Operations team and the launch system hardware. Key updates being made to mission control are:

- Increased automation through software improvements to eliminate more opportunities for human error – creating a more scalable and reliable launch system.
- Simplifying pre-launch procedures to reduce the number of mission control operators: the end goal for Launch System 2 is to reduce the number of mission control operators from four to two. Simplified procedures and increased automation will effectively double Astra’s mission control teams with no additional headcount – reducing launch costs for customers.


We expect Launch System 2 to deliver best-in-class launch economics and launch frequency via a platform that is being optimized for reliability at every phase of the development process. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be bringing this new launch system to market, which we have designed from the ground up to deliver the launch services that we understand our customers need.

We will continue to provide updates on the key development, testing, and qualification milestones for Launch System 2 as we continue with its development.

Source: Astra

On June, 10th, 2022 Astra received its launch license for the TROPICS-1 launch, the first of three launches that Astra plans to perform for NASA’s TROPICS program. The launch window opens at 12pm ET / 9am PT on Sunday, June 12, and live coverage will begin at approximately T-30 minutes.

Astra recently hosted Dr. William J. Blackwell of MIT Lincoln Labs for an internal Tech Talk about the TROPICS mission. As the Principal Investigator of TROPICS, Dr. Blackwell is the expert on the science behind this mission and what makes it so unique.

Tropical cyclones have a devastating impact on society. According to the NOAA Office for Coastal Management, from 2018 to 2020, the U.S. had more than 50 weather and climate disasters with damage exceeding $1 billion each, and the frequency and severity of storms have been increasing. At one point in 2018, there were nine named tropical cyclones happening simultaneously around the globe (source: University of Wisconsin SSEC).

In his talk, Dr. Blackwell explained that we need to do a better job of monitoring tropical cyclones so that we can provide early warnings for people to prepare and evacuate. Current weather satellites provide data about tropical cyclones, but don’t have sufficient resolution or frequency. These large, school bus-sized satellites are expensive to build and launch, and there are very few of them. When these satellites fly over a hurricane, it takes 4-6 hours until the next fly over, or revisit. Since storms change very rapidly, it’s hard to get enough data to provide accurate predictions with this revisit rate.

That’s where TROPICS comes in. The TROPICS mission will launch a constellation of small cubesats to capture key storm measurements—moisture, temperature and precipitation—to help predict the direction and intensity of storms. TROPICS is made up of six cubesats, each about the size of a loaf of bread, orbiting on three different planes. This constellation will yield a revisit rate of less than 1 hour, which will be much more helpful in forecasting and storm preparation! By reducing the size, cost and power consumption, more satellites can be launched into orbit and significantly increase coverage and data collection. This approach aligns very well with Astra’s strategy of designing a smaller, lower-cost rocket that can be produced at scale for frequent, dedicated launches to precise inclinations.

Source: Astra

Astra Space, Inc. (“Astra”) (Nasdaq: ASTR) and SaxaVord UK Spaceport announced on May 10th, 2022 that they are partnering to increase access to space, by providing dedicated orbital launch services to a growing satellite market. Subject to the entry of definitive agreements and regulatory approvals, rocket launches are expected to begin in 2023.

“This agreement between SaxaVord Spaceport and Astra is great news for Shetland and represents another step towards our shared ambition of bringing vertical launch satellite capability to Scotland,” said Ivan McKee, Scottish Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise. “Companies like this are vital to achieving the aims of our National Strategy for Economic Transformation that will support a nation of entrepreneurs and innovators in areas like small satellite technology and Scotland’s growing space industry.”

With its flexible, mobile approach, Astra can transport and connect a fully functional launch system to a simple concrete pad for launches. SaxaVord UK Spaceport would expand Astra’s capacity at key inclinations. Together, they are expected to accelerate access to space for customers launching in the UK.

“Astra is an agile, fast-moving company on pace to establish a successful track record,” said Robin Huber, Director of Business Development at SaxaVord UK Spaceport. “We look forward to working with their team to build new launch capabilities in the UK. Their mission to improve life on Earth from space is closely aligned with our own values, and we believe that this exciting new relationship will develop into a strong, lasting partnership.”

“The additional inclinations, flexibility and launch capacity that this partnership enables will allow us to meet the needs of Astra’s customers and align directly with SaxaVord UK Spaceport’s economic investment and environmental goals,” said Matt Ganser, Vice President of Business Operations at Astra. “We are excited to work with this partner to open another spaceport from which we would hope to meet the growing demand for dedicated launch out of the UK.”

“This new partnership between Astra and SaxaVord UK Spaceport is another great example of the strong interest from the international space community in operating from UK spaceports,” said Matt Archer, Director of Commercial Space at the UK Space Agency. “By attracting global partners and developing a home-grown launch industry, we can cater for the diverse needs of small satellite manufacturers and operators, while benefitting people and businesses across the UK. It is fantastic to welcome Astra into the UK’s thriving launch community.”

Learn more about expanded launch capacity at Astra’s inaugural Spacetech Day, which will be webcast live on the Company’s investor relations website at approximately 9 am PT, with a replay will be available following the event. Visit to register.

About Astra

Astra’s mission is to improve life on Earth from space by creating a healthier and more connected planet. Today, Astra offers one of the lowest cost-per-launch dedicated orbital launch services of any operational launch provider in the world. Astra delivered its first commercial payload into earth orbit in 2021, making it the fastest company in history to reach this milestone, just five years after it was founded in 2016. Astra (NASDAQ: ASTR) was the first space launch company to be publicly traded on Nasdaq.

About SaxaVord UK Spaceport

SaxVord Spaceport (SaxaVord) is the UK’s first vertical satellite launch facility and ground station located at Lamba Ness in Unst, Shetland. Given Unst is the UK’s highest point of latitude, SaxaVord offers customers a geographic competitive advantage enabling unrivalled payloads per satellite, launch site operations, a network of ground stations and in-orbit data collection and analysis. SaxaVord has received endorsement from the UK Space Agency’s (UKSA) Spectre Report, formed industry-leading partnerships and has been chosen to host the UKSA’s UK Pathfinder launch, which will be delivered by Lockheed Martin and ABL Systems, in 2022.

SaxaVord has secured planning permission for the launch site, which will be designed for small rockets delivering payloads into low earth orbit.

Integral to the UK’s space economy ambitions, SaxaVord is building a highly skilled workforce, championing STEM education and supporting the economic regeneration of the Shetlands.

Source: Astra

ALAMEDA, CA – April 12, 2022. Astra Space, Inc. (“Astra”) (Nasdaq: ASTR) and LeoStella LLC (“LeoStella”) today announced a contract for Astra to provide multiple Astra Spacecraft Engines for LeoStella satellites. Astra is expected to begin delivering the propulsion systems later this year and into 2023.

LeoStella designs and manufactures operational satellites cost effectively and at scale. Astra’s Spacecraft Engine has demonstrated that it can assist satellites in achieving and maintaining target orbits and maneuverability and is expected to be integrated onto a variety of LeoStella’s satellites.

“As demand for small satellites continues to grow, we are always looking for innovative options to provide highly efficient, reliable propulsion for our satellites,” said Tod Byquist, Director of Programs and Supply Chain at LeoStella. “Astra’s Spacecraft Engine has good flight heritage and the performance we need to get our satellites to space on schedule.”

“LeoStella is a pioneering force in constructing critical space infrastructure through a variety of satellite designs,” said Mike Cassidy, VP of Product Management at Astra. “Their vision to deploy reliable, cost-effective satellites aligns closely with Astra’s and demonstrates the innovative forces at work to expand and accelerate access to space.”

About Astra

Astra’s mission is to improve life on Earth from space by creating a healthier and more connected planet. Today, Astra offers one of the lowest cost-per-launch dedicated orbital launch services of any operational launch provider in the world. Astra delivered its first commercial payload into earth orbit in 2021, making it the fastest company in history to reach this milestone, just five years after it was founded in 2016. Astra (NASDAQ: ASTR) was the first space launch company to be publicly traded on Nasdaq.

About LeoStella

LeoStella is a state-of-the-art satellite design and manufacturing company transforming constellation construction by building small satellites cost-effectively and at scale. Based in Tukwila, Wash., LeoStella is a joint venture between Thales Alenia Space and BlackSky. The company was founded to meet the growing demand for efficient satellite development and manufacturing arising from the increasing number of constellations.

Source: Astra

On February 10, 2022, we launched Launch Vehicle 0008 (LV0008). This was our first launch with a deployable customer payload and our first time launching from Cape Canaveral. After a nominal first stage flight, an anomaly occurred during the stage separation process which resulted in the upper stage not reaching orbit and the end of the mission. We immediately initiated our investigation process to determine the root cause of the anomaly. Now, we can share more about what we’ve learned to date.

What Happened:

Our investigation verified that the payload fairing did not fully deploy prior to upper stage ignition due to an electrical issue. The separation mechanisms (our fairing has 5 of these) were fired in an incorrect order, which resulted in off-nominal movement of the fairing that caused an electrical disconnection. Due to the disconnection, the last separation mechanism never received its command to open, which prevented the fairing from separating completely before upper stage ignition.

Separately, we discovered a software issue that resulted in the upper stage engine being unable to use its Thrust Vector Control system. This led to the vehicle tumbling after the off-nominal stage separation, and caused the end of the mission.

What We Learned:

The root cause of the fairing separation issue was an error in an electrical harness engineering drawing. This harness was built and installed onto the vehicle exactly as specified by our procedures and the engineering drawing, but the drawing error led to two harness channels being swapped. Prior to the LV0008 flight, we had conducted an end-of-line signal test to verify the separation system and ensure that the system was wired correctly. This test would have been able to detect an error in the harness build or installation, but it was unable to detect an error in the design. The swapped separation channels caused a different deployment sequence than we expected, and this led to the failure to open the fairing. We’ve been able to recreate the failure mode by conducting several experiments at our factory with real flight hardware, one of the benefits of having an active production floor with several launch vehicles in various states of production at the same time.

After determining the root cause of the software issue, we found that our flight control software was vulnerable to a specific “packet loss” failure mode. A missed series of signals resulted in a chain of events, resulting in the upper stage’s inability to recover from its tumble. Although we had designed our software suite to be resilient to packet loss, an unlikely combination of factors caused a failure that we didn’t predict. We have been able to use our hardware-in-the-loop simulator to step through exactly what happened and diagnose the root cause with high confidence.

How We Fixed It:

Through the investigation process we had identified two problems that needed fixing: the harness issue and the software issue. Soon after discovering the harness drawing error, we fixed the drawing and incorporated the change on previously built harnesses. We also implemented a new end-of-line signal test that will allow us to identify this class of issue in the future, if it were to occur, prior to launch. On the software side, we’ve introduced a trio of upgrades designed to make our system even more resilient to packet loss and other similar failure modes. Through constant iteration and extensive testing, we have been able to demonstrate that the changes eliminate the failure mode we saw on LV0008, while making the software suite much more robust.

Here at Astra, iteration and learning are core parts of our culture. I’ve been continuously impressed with the speed, passion, and diligence that the team showed as they worked through these complex issues to identify exactly what occurred and determine the right path forward to resolve each problem. With the root causes identified and corrective measures in place, we’re preparing to return to the launch pad with LV0009 soon — stay tuned!

Source: Astra

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