Astra plans second rocket launch from Florida on Sunday

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida. – California-based private spaceflight company Astra announced Wednesday that its next attempt to launch a rocket from Florida with help from NASA will take place no earlier than Sunday, June 12.

The next launch attempt — pending issuance of a Federal Aviation Administration launch license, Astra said — follows the company’s first launch in Florida on Feb. 10, in which the Rocket’s second stage 3.3 consumable began to spin out of control and the educational nanosatellite launch mission payload was rendered undeliverable to low Earth orbit.

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Sunday’s mission is dubbed Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats, abbreviated as TROPICS-1.

Astra plans to use a Rocket 3 series launcher to deploy two CubeSats in NASA Constellation TROPICSa proving ground that will be used to demonstrate the effectiveness of low-cost orbital tropical cyclone monitoring tools on a near-global scale, according to the Lincoln Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Astra describes its orbital launch systems as expendable, responsive rockets designed to “significantly reduce the cost of getting to space”, with cost-saving measures in place such as engines using kerosene and a design that is sufficiently small for transport inside a standard shipping container. Fully perched, the Astra Rocket 3 is 43 feet tall, much shorter than any of SpaceX’s 229+ feet Falcon 9 rockets.

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An exact time has yet to be specified for the TROPICS-1 mission.

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