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The launch was supposed to put four NASA-sponsored cubesats on a mission called Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) 41.
On Thursday, February 10, rocket builder Astra Space Inc (NASDAQ: ASTR) reported the failure of its first operational launch Rocket 3.3 vehicle which has influenced the company’s stock. This was the fifth orbital launch attempt by Astra for its Rocket 3 vehicle.
The first three launches happened between September 2020 to August 2021. However, all of them failed to reach orbits. Later, Astra Space conducted the fourth launch last November 2021. Although the Rocket 3 vehicle did reach the satellite, it didn’t carry the satellite payload.
In the recent launch, it was the rocket designated LV0008 that lifted off from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The launch had already suffered major delays because of the range issue.
The onboarding video of the vehicle shows that within three minutes of lift-off, the upper stage started tumbling after the separation from the first stage. Speaking of what happened on Thursday, Carolina Grossman, director of product management at Astra, said:
“An issue has been experienced during flight that prevented the delivery of our customer payloads to orbit today. We are deeply sorry to our customers”.
The recent launch was carrying four NASA-sponsored cubesats on a mission called Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) 41. Asta had secured a $3.9 million contract in December 2020 from NASA for this mission. Three of the cubesats on the mission were from universities.
- BAMA-1, from the University of Alabama was responsible for a drag sail designed to rapidly deorbit the satellite.
- INCA, from New Mexico State University, was responsible for carrying out measurements in improving space weather models.
- QubeSat, from the University of California Berkeley, would test the functioning of quantum gyroscopes in space.
- RS-51, was from NASA’s Johnson Space Center was responsible for testing fast and cost-effective ways of building cubesats. Besides, its goal was to demonstrate in-space inspection capabilities.
ASTR Stock Tanks 26%
The news of the failed mission also reflected on Astra Space’s (NASDAQ: ASTR) stock price. On Thursday, the ASTR stock tanked a staggering 26% ending the trading at $3.91.
The sharp 2% drop of Nasdaq on Thursday further fueled the drop in ASTR stock. Astra Space listing on the Nasdaq happened last year through a SPAC merger. Commenting on Thursday’s failure to launch, Chris Kemp, Chairman and CEO at Astra Space said:
“I’m deeply sorry we were not able to deliver our customer’s payloads. I’m with the team looking at data, and we will provide more info as soon as we can”.