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Astra reaches orbit for first time with LV0007 launch

Astra reaches orbit for first time with LV0007 launch

Astra is now on the list of privately owned space companies that have successfully reached orbit. Its Launch Vehicle 0007 (LV0007), which was carrying a test payload for the US military, took off at 1:16 a.m. ET on Saturday from the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak Island, Alaska. After taking off smoothly, the 43-foot rocket entered orbit 500 km above Earth about nine minutes later.

"The team has worked very hard on this for so many years," Astra CEO Chris Kemp said during the livestream after the launch. "We have rocket serial numbers eight, nine, 10 in production, so we're just getting started."

The successful launch of the California-based startup comes after several failed attempts to reach orbit. Its first attempt took place in March 2020 during the DARPA competition, which tests rocket companies' abilities to respond to requests from the US military. Astra could not get its rocket off the ground due to a technical fault.

Later that year in September, Astra attempted to reach orbit once again, but Astra shortened the flight due to issues with the rocket's guidance system. Just three months later, Astra reached space for the first time with its rocket 3.2 launch, however, it could not successfully orbit after running low on fuel.

Astra's most recent effort was in August of this year. An engine failure caused LV0006 to slide across the launchpad during takeoff, and the rocket only reached an altitude of 31 miles until Astra aborted the launch.

Now, Astra joins Virgin Orbit, SpaceX and Rocket Lab, one of the few US companies to have achieved orbit with privately owned rockets. You can watch the full launch of Astra from the NASASpaceflight YouTube channel.

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