Another mission failure for Astra Space: Here’s what’s next

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Another launch, another mission failure for Astra Space.

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This time, two NASA weather satellites were lost when the upper stage of Astra’s rocket shut down early before those satellites could reach orbit.

NASA expects to pause its launch effort with Astra while an investigation is conducted. Astra and the Federal Aviation Administration are leading that investigation. NASA will lend its assistance as needed. The agency said it can still meet its science objectives with the four remaining weather satellites.

READ: Astra Space suffers 2nd failure to reach orbit after launch from Florida’s Space Coast

Astra’s second mission to launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station started well enough Sunday.

But, after a successful first-stage flight, the upper stage shut down early before delivering two tiny NASA weather satellites into orbit.

“It seems like they almost made it to orbit — they were within about 30 seconds or less of making it to orbit when the engine shut off,” said Don Platt, associate professor of Space Systems with Florida Institute of Technology.

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NASA said its four remaining tropics satellites should be enough to achieve mission success by providing improved observations of tropical cyclones such as hurricanes.

The next launch attempt depends on the outcome of an FAA and Astra investigation to understand what happened during the Tropics-1 launch. It was Astra’s second failed mission from Florida’s Space Coast. In February, a NASA ride share mission didn’t make it to orbit.

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.