Astra, a California-based aerospace startup, has partnered with the United States Space Force to launch its first commercial orbital satellite by the end of August.
The startup has also closed a contract with the military branch to perform a second launch at a later point this year. Colonel Carlos Quinones, Director of the Department of Defense Space Test Program., referred to the partnership by stating:
“We are thrilled to partner with Astra on this mission and believe this showcases critical low-cost, mobile and responsive launch capability,”
While the terms of the contract were not disclosed in the announcement, it is known that the launch was contracted via the Defence Innovation Unit’s Other Transaction Agreement with Astra, which will result in a test payload being launched for the Space Test Program.
The launch is expected to take place from the startup’s Kodia Spaceport with the launch window beginning on Friday 27th of August. Chris Kemp, Founder & CEO of Astra, said about the launch:
“We’re excited to kick off a multi-launch campaign with the Space Force. This orbital demonstration launch allows our team to verify numerous upgrades to our launch system.”
Since its founding in 2016, Astra has raised more than $100M in funding from inventors like LionTree, Artis Ventures (AV), Airbus Ventures, ACME Capital, Helios Capital, and more. It also acquired Apollo Fusion, a satellite propulsion company, back on June 29 to provide launch and spaces services beyond low earth orbit.
The startup also went public back in July 2021 via an Initial Public Offering in the Nasdaq exchange, receiving major attention from investors interested in supporting its mission to “improve life on Earth from space”.
The first launch completed by the aerospace startup took place within 4 years of its creation, making it the fastest company to reach space. This is an important milestone that has guided Astra’s mission over the past months, ultimately leading to the contract with the US Space Force.