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Secretive Astra Space Suborbital Launch Fails



  The secret suborbital launch of Astra Space fails

Launch services at the Pacific Space Space complex on Kodiak Island.

Credit: Alaska Aerospace Corp.

WASHINGTON – An Alaskan Test Flight of a Small Launch Vehicle The startup company closed in bankruptcy in late November, revealed the Federal Aviation Administration

In a speech by December 6, in a space conference of the US Chamber of Commerce discussing the agency's approach to the safety of commercial space flights, Dan Elwell, managing director of the FAA, mentioned a recent accident, but not reported , which involved a launch from Alaska a week ago.

"The recent launch mishap is an example of why I'm confident I'm on the right track," he said. "Look, the rockets are complex and powerful vehicles that fail every now and then, but because of our approach to licensing and the precautions that operators take, no one in the public has ever been hurt."

"We have seen that in Alaska a week ago today," he continued. "Even if all five engines failed, all debris ended up in the spaceport boundary and there were no injuries or material damage to the uninvolved public."

Elwell did not provide further details about the event, and left the conference without questions. However, according to the FAA-run list on its licensed launch website, Astra's November 29 launch of its "Astra Rocket 2" from Alaska was launched. No payload is listed for that launch and the site does not provide any more details about the mission.

A launch license issued by the FAA to Astra Space Inc. on October 1

5, also available on the FAA website, has authorized the company to perform a suborbital flight of its "Rocket 2" vehicle from Pavilion 2 of the Pacific Spaceport Complex -Alaska, the commercial launch site on the island of Kodiak, Alaska, managed by Alaska Aerospace Corp.

The launch included a first stage but a stadium mass simulator "in place of an active upper stage. The rocket would have to fly on a 195-degree azimuth, or slightly due west from the spaceport, but the license did not reveal the programmed altitude or the downrange distance for the mission.

As the name, the launch was the second for Astra Space.The company made an initial suborbital launch, also from Kodiak, on July 20. The launch took place in fog conditions and the result was shrouded in secrecy: the FAA claimed ch and the launch suffered an unspecified "accident", but Alaska Aerospace Corp. said the customer for that launch, which he refused to disclose by citing a non-disclosure agreement, was "very pleased with the outcome of the launch."

Alaska Aerospace Corp. did not respond immediately to a request for comment December 6 about November 29 launch incident. A FAA source, speaking in the background, said that the accident did not cause damage to the spaceport.

Even Astra Space has not commented on the failure of the launch. The company, based in Alameda, California, worked on a small launch vehicle capable of placing 100 kilograms in Earth's low orbit, according to the documents included in the lease with the city of Alameda for a building that the company uses. The company has maintained a low profile, identifying itself as "Stealth Space Company" in some job advertisements.

This story was provided by SpaceNews, dedicated to covering all aspects of the space industry.


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