Kodiak rocket launch goes wrong

A rocket prepares for flight at the Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska. Photo courtesy of John Kraus/Astra

By Roman Quemado
For The Cordova Times

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On September 12, the company Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska launched a rocket in Kodiak. The rocket was called the Astra 3.1. 

PSCA is a commercial and military spaceport owned by the Alaska Aerospace Corporation. Most of their launches have been for the U.S. government. They have been doing this for a long time. Their first launch took place on November 6, 1998. The rocket was named the Aerojet SR-19-AJ-1, and the crew module Hercules M57A1 accelerated past the atmosphere. That mission was for the Air Force, and carried several instruments like a GPS. 

The previous mission was not for the government. It was to test the 3.1 rocket and see if they could put it in orbit. 

When the launch day came, the YouTube channel “VideoFromSpace” livestreamed the launch. The first 35 seconds of the launch went well, but the vehicle stopped accelerating and drifted off out of its orbit due to a command shutdown in the engines. Fifteen seconds later, the rocket came back and crashed into a forest off nearby the LP-3B launch pad. The rocket exploded and went into flames.

“We didn’t meet all of our objectives, but we did gain valuable experience, plus even more valuable flight data,” reads a blog post written by Astra CEO Adam London. “This launch sets us well on our way to reaching orbit within two additional flights, so we’re happy with the result!” 

The PSCA team says that the Astra 3.2 rocket has been built and is ready for takeoff. Astra is planning to launch their new rocket sometime at the end of the year.