11:58:30 AM PDT - Monday, August 15th, 2022

Astra changes strategy and ditches current rocket in the wake of launch debacles  

By Editor - Fri Aug 05, 2:53 pm

Astra CEO Chris Kemp told investors Thursday that the company will be no longer launch payloads with its current lightweight vehicle, Rocket 3, and will instead remanifest all launches on a considerably larger rocket that’s still under development. It’s a big change for the company, which has operated on the hunch that customers are willing to risk a certain number of rocket failures in favor of increased launch cadence and lower costs. Kemp summarized the perspective to TechCrunch back in May : “The expectation I think that a lot of people have is every launch has to be perfect. I think what Astra has to do, really, is we have to have so many launches nobody thinks about it anymore.” But it looks like people – including Astra itself – are indeed thinking about it. This is particularly true after the launch failure of Astra’s TROPICS 1 mission in June, the first in a trio of launches the company conducted on behalf of NASA. That launch, much anticipated by the company and in particular Kemp, ended in loss of payload after the upper stage experienced an anomaly causing it to shut down before it reached target velocity. As late as May this year, Kemp told investors that “If two out of the three [TROPICS launches] are successful, it’s not mission failure. It’s just a lower refresh rate for the constellation.” But the switch from Rocket 3 to the larger vehicle, Rocket 4, marks a significant change in strategy that suggests a larger change in tune

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Astra changes strategy and ditches current rocket in the wake of launch debacles

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