California-based launch vehicle company Astra just landed its first commercial orbital launch deal. It also announced the launch window of its upcoming mission for August 27. The launch is a demonstration mission for the United States Space Force (USSF).
Astra’s contract with the USSF includes the 1pm PT August 27 launch as well as a second launch that will happen sometime later in 2021 on an as-of-yet unspecified date. If conditions aren’t perfect on August 27, or if the weather is less than ideal, the launch window will stay open through Saturday, September 11.
“We are thrilled to partner with Astra on this mission and believe this showcases critical low-cost, mobile and responsive launch capability,” stated Colonel Carlos Quinones, Director, Department of Defense Space Test Program.
— Astra (@Astra) August 5, 2021
Likewise, Astra’s Chairman and CEO, Chris Kemp, said, “We’re excited to kick off a multi-launch campaign with the Space Force. This orbital demonstration launch allows our team to verify numerous upgrades to our launch system.”
The payload carried in this launch is a test spacecraft flown for the Space Force’s Space Test Program (STP-27AD1). This launch will take place in Kodiak, Alaska, from Astra’s spaceport. The port has the location for Astra’s previous test mission launches as well, including its previous one where it nearly achieved orbit.
Astra is hoping to achieve weekly orbital launches and target regular space delivery of customer payloads (think: satellites or other spacecraft) in low Earth orbit. Its contract with the USSF is in line with this effort and makes it easier to connect happenings on Earth to those just off of it.