All eyes are on Astra – TechCrunch

Hey guys, welcome back to Max Q. This week we have rocket news both small (Astra’s 3.3 rocket) and very, very large (NASA’s Space Launch System). Add to that the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and some more funding news.

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Going public space startup Astra won a big win on Tuesday, deploying a customer payload to orbit for the first time.

The 43-foot-tall rocket, designated LV0009, took off from Alaska’s Pacific Spaceport Complex shortly after 11:00 a.m. Tuesday. It carried payloads for three Spaceflight Inc. customers, including a CubeSat for the Portland State Aeronautics Association and a sat-to-sat communication system for the NearSpace Launch. The third client is not announced.

The successful mission comes more than a month after the designated Astra rocket LV0008 was tested complete loss of payload on the company’s first mission to Cape Canaveral in Florida. Astra’s senior director of mission management and assurance, Andrew Griggs, said in a blog post published March 6, the team identified and addressed the issues that led to the failure.

Astra went public through the merger of SPAC last July, joining a growing group of space companies to avoid a traditional IPO on the way to mass market access. Company reached orbit for the first time in November 2021, but it hasn’t been able to repeat that feat – until now.

Each success elevates the premise for the company to launch. It’s one thing to perform a feat once, or even twice. Doing this over and over is another thing altogether. We will definitely keep an eye on the company’s Q4 earnings announcement on March 31.

rocket astra lv0009

Image credits: Astra

NASA’s super-expensive, super-giant space launch system is about to launch the launch pad

Image credits: NASA / Michael DeMocker

Twelve years after it was first announced, NASA’s “moon giant rocket” made its way to the public. The Integrated Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft deployed from the vehicle assembly building at Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, where it then made a nearly 11-hour procession to the launch pad. From there, it will undergo a number of tests to determine its readiness to fly, including a “wet suit maneuver”, when the launch system will be fully fueled and engineers will practice a countdown. .

NASA hasn’t set an exact date for the first SLS mission – Artemis 1, which will launch the agency’s ambitious Artemis program to return humans to the moon – but it could be as early as this summer. .

Long time no see. Congress directed NASA to develop SLS to replace the Space Shuttle, the agency’s original spacecraft, in 2010. But since then, the project has faced numerous setbacks and problems. continuous technique. A year ago, NASA’s Office of Inspector General issued a damn report on costs and contracts associated with the SLS program, found that “increased costs and delays” pushed the overall project budget far beyond its original scope.

NASA Vehicle Assembly Building, Kennedy Space Center

NASA’s very large vehicle assembly building at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA. Image credits: nathanphoto / Getty Images

Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Brings ExoMars to a Stop

Russia’s war against Ukraine continues to reverberate in the space sector. This week, the European Space Agency voted to suspend the upcoming Mars exploration mission, scheduled to launch this year on a Soyuz rocket. Regarding the war in Ukraine, ESA members “recognize the present impossibility of carrying out continued cooperation with Roscosmos” in relation to the ExoMars mission, the agency said.

An extraordinary session of the ESA’s Governing Council was called on April 6 to discuss possible alternatives to the launch. This will be the first time Europe has sent a rover to the red planet.

More news from CTV and more

  • Underwater space raised $650,000 in seed funding from VC firm Draper Associates to develop a communication system for the solar system, starting with the moon, SpaceNews reported.
  • Astranis has completed the final test of Arcturus, a MicroGEO satellite that will become operational later this year. Satellite will triple Alaska’s satellite bandwidth and provide lower-cost broadband, company says in a statement. Last year, Astranis raised $250 million Series C which gave a valuation to $1.4 billion.
  • Axiomatic spaceis planning the first fully private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, release more details about the science experiments that would be conducted while the crew was on board. One of the projects will explore “self-assembled methods for building in space”. Wonderful.
  • Blue origin selected the next batch of passengers it will head to suborbital space on its New Shepard rocket. It includes angel investor Marty Allen, nonprofit founder Sharon Hagle, her husband and Tricor CEO Marc Hagle, entrepreneur Jim Kitchen and Commercial Space Technology founder Dr. George Nield. Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson would also join the cast, but Blue Origin later said he would no longer be flying.
  • Celestia Aerospacea solutions startup company, has closed a €100 million ($109.5 million) seed round sponsored by Investma Corporation. With the capital, Celestia is opening a nanomanufacturing center and a development center for its launch system, Sagittarius.
  • The James Webb . Space TelescopeNASA’s Deep Space Infrared Telescope has completed key optical alignment steps that the agency’s scientists expect will meet or even exceed performance expectations.
JWST alignment image of the James Webb . Space Telescope

JWST focused on the bright star in the center of the image to evaluate the alignment of its 18 mirrors. Image credits: NASA (Opens in a new window)

  • Sierra Space and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries signed MOU to collaborate on technologies that could eventually be used on Orbital Reef, a commercial space station being developed by Sierra, Blue Origin, Boeing and Redwire Space.
  • SpaceX sent another batch of Starlink terminals to Ukraine, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation said. on Twitter.
  • Orbit of Terrana contract manufacturer to design, build and engineer satellites, has been awarded a contract by Lockheed Martin to build 42 satellites to the Space Development Agency.
  • Virgin Orbit signed a letter of intent with the Polish Space Agency expressing “the agency’s strong interest in bringing domestic launch capabilities to Poland” with Virgin’s LauncherOne rocket.

The Andromeda Galaxy was taken from the White Mountains of California. Image credits: Photo by Tony Rowell / Getty

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