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Rocket builder Astra reaches orbit for the first time


Rocket LV0007 launches during the first successful orbital launch of the company from Kodiak in Alaska, November 20, 2021.

Astra / NASASpaceflight

Astra SpaceIt reached orbit with rocket LV0007 on Saturday, becoming the latest company to achieve this feat.

From Kodiak’s Pacific Spaceport Complex, the company launched the rocket carrying a payload test for U.S. Space Force. The rocket was able to pass through all stages of the launch and reached its orbit at approximately 500 km altitude nine minutes after it had lifted off.

Chris Kemp, Astra CEO and founder of Astra stated that “this is an incredibly difficult thing to accomplish.”

Kemp said, “The team has worked so hard to this over so many years. Seeing iteration after iteration and failure after failure leads to success. Everyone is just so passionate about it.”

Astra joins SpaceX, Rocket Lab Virgin OrbitIn the list of U.S. businesses that reached orbit using a privately funded rocket.

It measures 43 feet in height and can be used to launch small rockets on the market. Astra hopes to be able to launch as many small rockets as possible. It plans to launch one rocket per day in 2025, and to reduce its price of $2.5 million.

Astra made its first space flight in December 2020. But the company hadn’t been to orbit before. Its last attempt in August dramatically slid off the pad sidewaysBefore finally failing to reach space.

Astra went public earlier this yearThe company has raised capital after the completion of a SPAC merge to build out production of its small rocketsClick here to expand its facilities in Alameda, CaliforniaExpand its business lines in spacecraft and spaceports.

“Continuing to do it is incredibly hard — we have rocket serial numbers 8, 9, 10 in production, so we’re just getting started,” Kemp said on the webcast.

Brysongentile, Astra’s vice president of manufacturing, is left. Chris Kemp, the CEO, takes a cover off a rocket fairing.

Michael Sheetz | CNBC

Astra partnered with NASASpaceflight — a space industry content organization that is not affiliated with the U.S. agency — to webcast Saturday’s launch.