How to Watch Astra Rocket Launch Today After It Was Scrapped 2 Times

Private U.S. rocket company Astra is due to conduct its first Florida rocket launch later today after multiple delays.

The mission will be significant in many ways for Astra. As well as marking the company's first launch from Florida it will also be the first one Astra has carried out on behalf of NASA and the first to involve the deployment of a satellite.

The mission came within seconds of launching earlier this week on February 7. However, the liftoff attempt was canceled almost immediately after the engines had fired. Astra later said that they were standing down from that day's launch "due to a minor telemetry issue."

Prior to that, Astra had attempted to get the mission underway on February 5. However, that launch was canceled because of an issue with a radar system.

The next launch attempt is due to take place on Thursday, February 10, at 3:00 p.m. ET. It's due to be covered live by NASASpaceFlight.com, which will stream the launch to YouTube. The live feed can also be seen on the livestream section of Astra's website.

The mission is called ELaNa 41. It will involve the launch of four small research satellites, known as CubeSats, that have been developed by NASA's Johnson Space Center in cooperation with the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces and the University of California, Berkeley.

The CubeSats will test new technologies such as a drag sail to de-orbit satellites and also help improve space weather models.

For ELaNa 41, Astra will be using its Rocket 3.3 launch vehicle, also called Launch Vehicle 0008 on this occasion. The company claims it is "the world's most responsive and affordable orbital launch system."

Designed to be a low-cost launch vehicle, Rocket 3.3 is a small, two-stage rocket that can fit inside a standard shipping container. Its overall length is just 43 feet while its diameter is around 4 feet, 4 inches.

In comparison, the Falcon 9 rocket developed by competing private space firm SpaceX is 230 feet tall with a diameter of 12 feet.

Astra is one of the newest rocket companies to enter the burgeoning private space sector joining SpaceX and Rocket Lab. Founded in 2016, it launched its first commercial payload to orbit in 2021 and was the first space launch company to be traded publicly on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Astra rocket
A photo showing a static fire test of Astra's Rocket 3.3 in Florida on January 22, 2022. Astra is part of the burgeoning private space sector. Astra/John Kraus