Astra reveals vague details about its next larger rocket

Capitalism in space: In a public event in California yesterday Chris Kemp, CEO of the rocket startup Astra, revealed some vague details about the company’s new larger rocket, dubbed Rocket 4.0.

The vehicle will be able to place up to 300 kilograms into low Earth orbit and 200 kilograms into sun-synchronous orbit at a “base price” of $3.95 million. By contrast, Astra’s current Rocket 3.3 vehicle can accommodate a small fraction of that payload, having to date launched only a few cubesats at a time.

…The biggest change in the rocket is its first stage propulsion. While Rocket 3.3 uses five of Astra’s Delphin engines, generating a combined 35,000 pounds-force of thrust, Rocket 4.0 will use two larger engines that produce a combined 70,000 pounds-force of thrust.

Kemp’s presentation however did not reveal whether Astra is building it or whether the company is buying it from someone else. He did say the company does not plan to attempt ot reuse any portion of Rocket 4.0, saying that the economics did not work for Astra.

His presentation also suggested a first launch for late this year, using a mission control made up of only two people, what he called “a pilot and a co-pilot.”