Today, rocket startup Astra will launch four small satellites as part of its first mission for NASA. After three failed attempts, Astra made it to orbit on its fourth attempt last year, and now it will put its rocket technology to use in this satellite launch.
The launch will be livestreamed, so all the details on the launch and how to watch it are below.
Astra will be using its Rocket 3.3 vehicle to launch four small satellites for NASA. The launch involves four research satellites, called CubeSats, which were developed by universities and NASA as the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa 41) mission. They include BAMA-1, a flight demonstration of a drag sail for effective deorbiting of satellites developed by the University of Alabama, INCA, a space weather research mission developed by New Mexico State University, QubeSat, a demonstration of a new type of quantum gyroscope developed by the University of California, and R5-S1, a demonstration of a cheaper way to build CubeSats developed by NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
The rocket will be launched from Space Launch Complex 46 (SLC-46) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This will be both Astra’s first launch for NASA and its first launch from Cape Canaveral. Astra claims that its Rocket 3.3 is “the world’s most responsive and affordable orbital launch system,” saying that, “Rocket 3.3 is an expendable, vertically-launched two stage LOX/kerosene rocket, designed to fit inside a standard shipping container and built to dramatically lower the cost of access to space. Eschewing labor-intensive processes such as carbon composite layups, Astra has focused on proven and cost-efficient metallic structures. Rocket 3.3 consists of a first stage powered by five electric-pump-fed engines and an upper stage propelled by a single pressure-fed upper stage engine.”
The launch will be livestreamed by Astra, in a stream provided by NASASpaceFlight.com. The stream should begin around one hour before liftoff, and cover the launch process up until deployment of the CubeSats.
To watch the livestream, you can either head to NASASpaceFlight’s YouTube channel or use the video embedded near the top of this page. Coverage will begin at 12 p.m. ET (9 a.m. PT) on Saturday, February 5.