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Astra Space Hits Orbit for First Time on Space Force Mission

Astra Space reached orbit for the first time on Saturday at an altitude of about 500 kilometers on a mission for the U.S. Space Force.

Astra Space  (ASTR) - Get ASTRA SPACE, INC. Report joined Elon Musk's SpaceX and Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit in reaching orbit using privately funded rockets, as its LV0007 launch vehicle lifted off from Astra Spaceport in Kodiak, Alaska.

Astra reached orbit for the first time on Saturday at an altitude of 500 kilometers, the company's co-founder and CEO Chris Kemp announced on Twitter, as part of a commercial launch on behalf of a U.S. Department of Defense’s Space Force contract to test a payload under its space test program.

"The team worked hard for this," Kemp tweeted on Saturday. "We're just getting started, folks."

The Alameda, Calif., space company's Saturday launch success comes almost three months after aborting a mission on behalf of Space Force because of an engine malfunction.

Astra on Aug. 28 launched its LV0006 rocket from the Astra Spaceport on a mission fo Space Force, hoping to reach orbit. However, a propellant leakage at liftoff led to the shutdown of one of the rocket’s engines, and the flight was terminated after 2 1/2 minutes.

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The space rocket company at the time said it had a successful launch and liftoff but achieved an anomaly in flight and did not reach orbit. 

Astra conducted an investigation in collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration, which led to a rocket redesign and improvement of verification processes for both design and operations for the LV0007 rocket.

The rocket company has said its objective is to launch monthly, then weekly, and finally daily space delivery by 2025 using its rockets, according to its website.

Shares of Astra on Friday rose 1.8% to $9.70 in after-hours trading. The stock had fallen 2.6% in the regular session.

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