Astra rocket launch scheduled for next week

Astra’s “1 of 3” rocket sits on the launch pad at the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak.

Astra, a California-based commercial rocket company, plans to launch a rocket from the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak next week. 

The launch is scheduled to take place on March 23 between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. If the launch cannot take place that day due to weather or other concerns, it will be postponed to the same time the following day. The last available date for the launch window is March 27. 

During launch time, maritime, air and road closures will be implemented, restricting traffic to and around the launch site. Closures may continue until 3 p.m. on the launch day. 

The planned launch comes three weeks after Astra scrapped a launch that had been scheduled as part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Launch Challenge. The launch was cancelled at T minus 53 seconds, after a sensor showed irregular unusual data. 

“Our team decided to hold the launch at T-53 seconds after a sensor reported unexpected data that could have impacted the success of the flight. Out of our commitment to safety, and to increase the probability of overall success of the three-launch campaign, we have decided to prioritize fully investigating the issue over attempting to win the DARPA challenge today,” Astra wrote in a statement following the scrapped launch on March 2. 

Astra intends to launch their “1 of 3” rocket in the upcoming launch, the same one intended for the DARPA launch. Rockets “2 of 3” and “3 of 3” are currently under construction in the Astra facility in Alameda, California. In a previous statement from Astra CEO Chris Kemp, he said the company intends to launch numerous additional rockets from the Kodiak spaceport in the future.

Alaska Aerospace Corp. CEO Mark Lester said the spaceport is taking precautions to ensure a healthy workforce, given the threat presented by the coronavirus. A total of 10 people will be coming to Kodiak from out-of-state ahead of the launch, Lester said. 

“I’ve asked everyone to do self-assessment,” Lester said. “It’s good practice to stay home if you’re sick.” 

Around 12 Kodiak-based employees work at the launch facility. So far, none of them have reported symptoms that may be compatible with the coronavirus, Lester said. 

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