California Bay Area-based small rocket startup Astra is planning to achieve 300 launches per year by 2025. It is an ambitious goal, but the company is confident demand exists to make it possible.
Astra CEO Chris Kemp said,
“In the fall, we’ll start this monthly cadence, and then we’re going to continue that cadence as we start to ramp towards weekly (launches) late next year…Then we’ll cross through weekly…(and target) daily space delivery, or roughly 300 launches, in 2025.”
Currently, the small satellite launch market is growing rapidly. Providing low-cost, flexible and specialized trips to orbit with mass-produced rockets is a key strategic goal of this startup.
At the end of last year, the startup conducted a test flight with a 12-meter-tall Rocket 3.2 vehicle. However, it did not achieve optimal results. Then Astra made some adjustments to optimize its next booster, Rocket 3.3.
Astra’s two-stage launchers are also on the way, along with a new and improved version of Rocket 3.3’s fuel management software upgrade. With those groundbreaking changes, Astra will be able to compete for bigger contracts.
Up to now, Astra has made four launches. The suborbital test flights took place in July 2018 and November 2018. In addition, there were also orbital tests in September 2020 and December 2020.
Astra has made plans for another launch from a different launch location this year. The company hopes that by enacting build changes and switching launch locations the time between launches will be cut substantially.
The startup is also developing its own satellite bus. This product is intended to give customers the option of integrating their payload into an existing spacecraft. Astra’s spacecraft will be powered by engines provided by Apollo Fusion.
Last week, the company completed a merger with Holicity, which is backed by Bill Gates and billionaire telecom entrepreneur Craig McCaw.
This merger resulted in a valuation for Astra of $2.1 billion. It also provided the company with about $500 million in cash and opened the door for a lot more development from Astra.