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Astra launch failure caused by one of five 1st stage engines shutting down at liftoff

Capitalism in space: According to an Astra press release, its launch failure on August 28th was caused when one of the rocket’s five 1st stage engines shut down one second after liftoff.

One of the five main engines shut down less than one second after liftoff, causing the vehicle to slowly lift off the pad before resuming its trajectory. After approximately two minutes and thirty seconds of flight, the range issued an all engine-shutdown command, ending the flight.

The lack of one engine explains the rocket’s strange take-off, where it initially tilted slightly, shifted sideways, and then straightened up and began rising upward. From that point onward the ground controllers knew the mission would not reach orbit, and were only waiting until it reached a safe altitude to cut off the engines and have the rocket fall into the ocean safely.

While the launch failed, Astra’s engineers should be very satisfied by how the software on the rocket functioned. Rather than shut everything down and crashing into the launchpad fully fueled where it could do a lot of damage, the rocket immediately compensated for the loss of one engine and resumed a stable flight, allowing it to get clear.

This success does not negate the failure however. Astra needs to find out why one engine shut down.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
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“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


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  • While the launch failed, Astra’s engineers should be very satisfied by how the software on the rocket functioned.

    And their flight controllers should be very satisfied in how they handled the malfunction, with an apparent absence of panic and a focus on assuring a safe flight termination in the face of the unexpected.

    Steely-eyed missile men …

  • born01930

    whoever left the gate open ought to get a pat on the back

  • Ray Van Dune

    I seem to be playing the dog-in-the-manger with respect to Astra’s recent problems. But I can’t get past the fact that their business model emphasizes a core team centrally located away from the launch site, and what that may say about the results of the last two launch attempts.

    The first attempt shut down because the launch abort system (correctly?) detected an engine startup problem. Someone decided something had to be adjusted, but apparently that something was NOT an engine, but an “operational” procedure. Was there anyone on-site who could inspect the engines? There didn’t seem to be a long enough time between launch attempts to inspect much less swap out one or more engines. Did they settle for dialing back the safety tolerances, and it bit them?

    I’ll bet the USSF is glad their payload was only a chunk of concrete!

  • wayne

    Scott Manley
    The Astra Launch
    August 29, 2021

  • Jeff Wright

    If I could have somehow survived the thermal and acoustic environment-and gripped the lower edge and lifted it with the LV’s thrust-to-weight at unity….could I have done a Superman and got it going with a push?

  • wayne

    Here ya’ go…

    The Kinks
    “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman” (1980)

  • Gene

    It was the rooskies….

    Y’know like how American astronauts must have drilled the hole in the russian module of ISS.

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