T Zero Telemetry Issue Aborts Astra Inaugural Cape Launch Reset to Feb. 10: Photos

T Zero Telemetry Issue Scrubs Astra Inaugural Cape Launch Reset to Feb. 10: Photos
Astra rocket 3.3 scrubs at T Zero after first stage engine ignition with exhaust vapors visible on Feb. 7, 2022 during the new launch providers’ second attempt to launch 1st rocket from Space Launch Complex-46 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on the ElaNa 41 cubesat mission sponsored by NASA.  View from Jetty Park beach.  Launch retargeted to Feb. 10 at 3 p.m. Credit: Ken Kremer/spaceupclose.com

For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM

JETTY PARK, FL – A T Zero telemetry issue detected upon ignition of the first stage engines forced Astra – a new small sat mission launch provider – to scrub the 2nd attempt to launch their 1st operational rocket on an orbital flight test from Cape Canaveral on a demonstration mission with four cubesats sponsored by NASA and which could not be resolved before the launch window closed Monday afternoon, Feb. 7 – under decent weather conditions.

Astra has now rescheduled the launch of their Rocket 3.3 to Thursday afternoon, Feb. 10, to a 1 hour launch window opening a bit later at 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT) rather than 1 p.m.

The Space Force weather forecast is extremely favorable at  >90% GO for Thursday under mostly sunny skies with the Primary Concern being the Cumulous Cloud Rule.

The inaugural flight of the tiny 43 foot tall (13.1 m) tall Astra launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral counted down all the way to T Zero at 1:50 p.m. EST  (1850 GMT)  Feb. 7 for the 2nd launch attempt from at pad 46 and the five Delphin 1st stage engines ignited briefly  creating a visible vapor cloud  – but computers halted the blastoff forcing an ignition abort after finding something wrong with the telemetry transmitting from the rocket to keep it safely on the ground and enabling another try.

 

Astra tried to recycle for another attempt but ultimate decided more time was needed to assess the situation, tweeted Astra CEO Chris Kemp.

 

The prior attempt on Saturday, Feb. 5, was scrubbed due to a failure in a critical radar hardware system operated by the U.S. Space Force in the Eastern Range that must be operational to ensure a safe launch and that could not be repaired in time before the launch window closed.

Astra rocket 3.3 is venting liquid oxygen (LOX) prior to scrub called on Feb. 5, 2022 during the new launch providers’ first attempt to launch a rocket from Space Launch Complex-46 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on the ElaNa 41 cubesat mission sponsored by NASA. Credit: Ken Kremer/spaceupclose.com

That initial Astra Rocket 3.3 launch attempt from pad 46 came despite completely overcast gloomy skies and extremely high winds over the Cape Canaveral region and what appeared to be truly unfavorable weather.

The weather was far better on Monday with more modest winds and less thick clouds – although the launch attempt was pushed 50 minutes due to exceeding the ground winds constraint

Mondays launch window extended for 3 hours from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Space Launch Complex 46 (SLC-46) on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.

Astra rocket stands vertical prior to scrub called on Feb. 5, 2022 during the new launch providers’ first attempt to launch a rocket from Space Launch Complex-46 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on the ElaNa 41 cubesat mission sponsored by NASA. Credit: Ken Kremer/spaceupclose.com

Astra was attempting to launch their tiny new Rocket 3.3 also known as LV0008 on the ELaNa 41 mission carrying four small cubesats sponsored by NASA. ElaNA means Educational Launch of Nanosatellites

Astra was awarded a $3.9 million launch contract from NASA for the ElaNa 41 cubesat  mission

The Astra launch team had fueled the rocket with liquid oxygen (LOX) and highly refined kerosene

LOX venting was visible from our viewing location at Jetty Park beach about 5 miles distant from pad 46 at the time the scrub was called at 1:50 p.m. when we briefly saw  the engine ignition exhaust.

Spectators gather at Jetty Park pier and beach prior to Astra rocket 3.3 scrub at T Zero after first stage engine ignition on Feb. 7, 2022 during the new launch providers’ second attempt to launch 1st rocket from Space Launch Complex-46 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on the ElaNa 41 cubesat mission sponsored by NASA. View from Jetty Park beach. Launch retargeted to Feb. 10 at 3 p.m. Credit: Ken Kremer/spaceupclose.com

Enjoy our photos of the Astra launch attempt taken by Ken Kremer for Space UpClose.

Astra is a new launch provider targeting the small satellite market with their tiny 43 foot (13.1 m) tall launch vehicle which would be the smallest ever to launch to orbit from the Cape.  It measures 52 inches (1.3 meters) in diameter.

Astra rocket stands vertical prior to scrub called on Feb. 5, 2022 during the new launch providers’ first attempt to launch a rocket from Space Launch Complex-46 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on the ElaNa 41 cubesat mission sponsored by NASA. Credit: Ken Kremer/spaceupclose.com

The Rocket 3.3 is capable of carrying payloads of up to 110 pounds (50 kilograms) into an orbit at an altitude of 310 miles (500 kilometers).

This mission is flying to an orbital inclination of 41 degrees

The NASA Elana 41 mission is comprised of 4 cubesats about the size of a toaster oven  – one from NASA’s Johnson Space Center as well as three from universities.

“The launch is scheduled to carry four CubeSats, or small satellites, to orbit. CubeSats are a cornerstone in the development of cutting-edge technologies such as laser communications, satellite-to-satellite communications, and autonomous movement,’” said NASA.

The CubeSats on the ELaNa 41 mission were designed and built by three universities and one NASA center:

  • BAMA-1– University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
  • INCA– New Mexico State University, Las Cruces
  • QubeSat– University of California, Berkeley
  • R5-S1 – NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston

The payloads will be deployed at 8 minutes and 40 second after liftoff

The Astra Rocket 3.3 mission is contracted by NASA Launch Services Program under the Venture Class Launch Services Demonstration 2 contract.

NASA’s venture class contracts seek to encourage development of a new class of small launch vehicles and launch providers.

Astra, of Alameda, California, provides launch services to NASA under a Venture Class Launch Services contract, managed by the agency’s Launch Services Program based at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“Our objective is to successfully launch and deploy the 4 spacecraft for NASA. This will be our first mission deploying satellites, our first launch for NASA, and our first launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida,” says Astra.

The Astra rocket is powered by five first stage Delphin engines which generate only 32,500 pounds of liftoff thrust

Astra’s Rocket 3.3 is prepared for launch at Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The rocket will carry four small spacecraft – called CubeSats – that comprise NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa 41) payload. Liftoff is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. EST on Feb. 5, 2022. The mission will mark the first operational satellite launch by Astra Space Inc. and the first launch under the NASA’s Venture Class Launch Services Demonstration 2 (VCLS Demo 2) contract. Managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center, VCLS was developed to provide increased access to space for developers of small satellites. Photo credit: John Kraus/Astra

To date Astra has mounted one successful launch in four attempts overall since 2020

Watch Ken’s commentary at WFTV ABC 9 Orlando News about Astra space targeting 1st Space Coast launch on a NASA mission with their Rocket 3.3

https://www.wftv.com/news/video-new-rocket-launch-provider-set-set-lift-off-cape-canaveral/7aa4d6ce-406a-43d0-80b4-d263d4b88393/

Ken Kremer of Space UpClose interviewed about Astra by WFTV ABC News Orlando prior to 1st rocket launch attempt

Watch Ken’s continuing reports about SpaceX Crew and Cargo Dragons,  SpaceX Starlink , Artemis, SLS, Orion and NASA missions, DART,  Lucy Asteroid mission, Blue Origin and Space Tourism, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2 & 3, ISS, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, NRO spysats and national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com

Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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