Chris Kemp told foreign media in May that many people expect every launch to be perfect. But Astra clearly has a long way to go before reaching that goal.
It now appears that the company and its followers are indeed considering such a question — especially after the setback of the TROPICS 1 mission in June.
As the first of three launches Astra is scheduled for NASA, the highly anticipated mission experienced an unexpected anomaly that caused the rocket to stall before reaching its target speed, ultimately losing its payload.
In May of this year, Chris Kemp told investors that the mission was not a complete failure, and at least two-thirds of it went fairly smoothly.
Even so, the switch from the Rocket 3 to the larger Rocket 4 marks a major strategic shift for Astra.
Meanwhile, Astra is doubling the Rocket 4’s payload from 300kg to 600kg. (For reference, the Rocket 3 is only 50kg)
According to Chris Kemp, this is done due to customer preferences and market evolution. Through communication with customers, the need for higher payloads and reliability is increasing after two failed launches out of four.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Astra won’t be flying other missions in 2022, and the company is currently considering several trials of the Rocket 4 and version 2.0 launch systems.
Rocket 4 is part of it, but Chris Kemp has not given an exact timetable, only that the relevant successful experience will lay a solid foundation for commercial operations to start next year.
Finally, Astra reported other growth in the space products segment, especially in the aerospace segment. So far, the company has received 103 committed orders.
Building on last year’s acquisition of Apollo Fusion, the company will set up a 60,000-square-foot production facility to support manufacturing of the product, and Aeroengine sales is expected to contribute most of its revenue.