The mysterious upcoming commercial launch in Alaska


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Link here. The article takes a detailed look to try to find out the unnamed commercial company behind the mid-April launch, and learns that it will be a suborbital launch, and that the company might be one called Astra Space.

Alaska Aerospace signed a contract with Astra Space in 2017 to support launches of that company’s vehicle from PSCA, according to the minutes of an Alaska Aerospace board of directors meeting in August 2017.

Alaska Aerospace “has a contract with Astra to support the first four launches of their small liquid fuel commercial launch vehicle from PSCA. The first launch is planned for December 2017,” the minutes state. It added that it would be the first liquid-propellant launch from the spaceport, which previously had hosted only solid-fuel rockets. “This will be a very innovative launch.”

Minutes from a Nov. 2 meeting of the Alaska Aerospace board stated that “Astra is moving forward” with plans, holding weekly planning teleconferences and paying a $100,000 deposit for a launch date. That launch was planned at that time for “possibly February or later.”

It appears the company is doing work for both NASA and DARPA, the latter of which might explain the secrecy. Or maybe the company is taking the Blue Origin approach, keeping things close to the vest until they are sure of success.

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