Update for 2 p.m. EDT: Astra has launched its Astra-1 mission into orbit and has confirmed successful payload deployment. You can read our wrap story of the successful launch here.
The space startup Astra will attempt its first rocket launch since a failure in February today (March 15) and you can watch it live online.
An Astra Rocket 3.3 launch vehicle carrying three payloads for customer Spaceflight Inc. is scheduled to lift off at 12:22 p.m. EDT (1622 GMT, 9:22 a.m. PDT) from Pad LP-3B at the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Alaska's Kodiak Island. It will mark a return to flight for Astra after a Rocket 3.3 flight failed on Feb. 10 after launching from Florida, leading to the loss of 4 satellites for NASA's Educational Launch of Nanosatellites project.
You can watch Astra's planned launch live in the video feed above, courtesy of Astra and NASA Spaceflight, beginning at about 11:30 a.m. EDT (1530 GMT). You can also watch it directly from Astra's livestream page here (opens in new tab). Today's launch try is Astra's second launch attempt after the risk of lightning prevented a Monday liftoff.
Today's mission, called Astra-1, is the first of three flights for Spaceflight Inc. through 2025 under an agreement announced on Monday. It will carry three payloads, including one each for the company NearSpace Launch and the Portland Aerospace Society.
"We continuously look for opportunities to provide our customers access to flexible and reliable options to get to orbit,” said Curt Blake, CEO and president of Spaceflight Inc. in a statement (opens in new tab). "By expanding our launch partner portfolio to include Astra, we can increase the launch opportunities available to our customers. Astra's willingness to explore creative launch solutions and shared dedication to customer success makes them a great partner."
The NearSpace Launch payload is called S4 Crossover and is a technology demonstrator that will test hardware for a host platform that can hold payloads on future missions. It will remain attached to the upper stage of the 43-foot-tall (13 meters) Rocket 3.3 vehicle, known as LV0009, after it reaches orbit.
The Portland Aerospace Society's payload is a small CubeSat called OreSat0 built by students at Portland State University in Oregon. As Portland State's first CubeSat, it's designed to prove out technologies to be used in a bigger CubeSat that will study cirrus clouds for global climate science research on a later mission.
All three payloads will be placed into an orbit about 326 miles (525 kilometers) above the Earth, Astra officials said in the statement.
The Astra-1 mission is the first flight for Astra since its LV0008 Rocket vehicle failed to reach orbit last month. During that mission, which also marked Astra's first launch from Florida instead of Alaska, the rocket's payload fairing failed to deploy properly and a software problem related to engine thrust vector control also occurred.
Both issues have since been address, Astra has said.
"With the root causes identified and corrective measures in place, we’re preparing to return to the launch pad with LV0009 soon," Andrew Griggs, Astra's senior director for mission management and assurance, wrote in a March 6 update (opens in new tab).