Satellites from the US space agency NASA have again been lost in a failed rocket launch by the US company Astra Space from Cape Canaveral. The first stage of the rocket, named LV0010, launched on schedule, but the upper stage shut down early, Astra said on Twitter. Two NASA earth observation satellites were lost in the process. We regret that and are now working on a complete evaluation of the data collected. For Astra it is another setback after a rocket launch for NASA failed in February. Out of a total of nine attempts, the company only succeeded in two; one more had become impossible after the rocket intended for it had burned down in advance.
A string of failures
After a series of failures, Astra had its first successful launch last November. It had succeeded from the PSCA rocket launch site on the island of Kodiak in the US state of Alaska, after which the first launch attempt from another site failed. In mid-March another launch succeeded from the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska, LV0010 was now the second attempt from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The setback shows once again how difficult rocket launches are. Astra’s share price is likely to drop again as a result, and is currently at an all-time low of just $2 – 80 percent below the July 2021 issue price.
The lost NASA satellites were to become part of a planned constellation of six small CubeSats. Their mission is called Tropics (Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity) and according to the US space agency, it would work with just four satellites. The next ones are also to be launched with rockets from Astra, and two more launches are planned. NASA assumes that no further launches will be attempted until the analysis that is now required has been completed. Tropics is designed to research tropical storms, and the mission is part of a NASA program for cheaper and riskier launches by young space companies.
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