Astra has said it successfully launched its Rocket 3.2 booster into space on Tuesday from the Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska on Kodiak Island, but that the booster came up just short of reaching orbit.
In a series of tweets, the company said launch progress through cut off of the first stage engine and separation and firing of the second stage. Astra said the rocket had passed the boundary of space known as the Karman line at 100 km (62.1 miles).
Astra CEO Chris Kemp later told reporters the rocket reached the intended orbital altitude of 390 km (242 miles), but that the second stage came half a kilometer per second short of the orbital velocity of 7.68 km/s. That meant the company came within seconds of reaching orbit.
Despite coming up short, Kemp said the flight exceeded expectations.
“HUGE SUCCESS!!!!!!! Flight video, data, and more details to follow!” Astra tweeted.
The company tweeted two images of Earth taken from space.
Astra, which is located in Alameda, Calif., is developing an ultra-low cost launch vehicle capable of orbiting small payloads at a price of $1 million per launch.