Astra to launch rocket from the territory of the British spaceport

Astra Space has announced its intention to launch its rockets from the territory of the SaxaVord spaceport, located on the island of Anst in the northern part of the Shetland archipelago. The first mission is scheduled for 2023.

Rocket launch from the territory of the SaxaVord spaceport (concept). Source: Shetland Flyer Aerial Media

Astra Space was founded in 2016. The main focus of its activity is the development of affordable small carriers capable of carrying cargo into near Earth orbits. Initially, the company carried out its launches from the Kodiak cosmodrome, located on the island of the same name off the coast of Alaska. The first four attempts were unsuccessful, the fifth launch was a success. After this, Astra Space moved its operations to Cape Canaveral. The first launch from the new site ended in failure, the second was successful

Despite the very uneven launch statistics and numerous accidents so far, the management of Astra Space plans to expand its activities and enter the international market. Part of this strategy is launching rockets from other countries. On May 10, the company’s management announced that an agreement had been reached with the owners of the British spaceport SaxaVord. In case of obtaining permission from the local authorities, Astra Space intends to carry out its first international launch in 2023.

According to the Astra Space management, its launch system is mobile and can be quickly delivered anywhere in the world in a standard shipping container — and only six people are needed to prepare the launch. The company hopes that successful launches from the territory of SaksaVord will attract both private clients and states that do not have a developed launch infrastructure.

Astra’s Rocket 3.3 on the launch pad. Source: Astra

It should be noted that Astra is far from the only American company with plans to use the SaxaVord spaceport. In 2021, Lockheed Martin announced its intention to launch RS1 rockets from its territory. The first mission was planned for the end of 2022. However, the explosion of the RS1 second stage during recent ground tests has cast doubt on these plans.

According to

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