California aerospace company Astra is planning to launch its second commercial rocket from Kodiak’s Pacific Spaceport Complex. Astra had expected to open a launch window this Sunday, Feb. 27 from the state-owned launch complex on Narrow Cape. But as of Tuesday that’s been postponed until at least March 8.
Astra has a history with Kodiak. The Alameda, California-based rocketeers sent its first commercial rocket into orbit from the island last November.
Alaska Aerospace hasn’t received any state subsidies since 2015. It relies on federal funding and private contracts from companies like Astra. Alaska Aerospace CEO Milton Keeter said everyone is looking forward to another successful launch.
“I think it’s absolutely incredible for us, both us and the state of Alaska because we’re bringing in more customers and increasing the aerospace industry here in the state of Alaska,” he said. “This time is incredible because we have a lot of commercial companies starting up that need a place to launch from.”
But Astra’s fortunes have fallen since its last rocket shot up in Kodiak. A failed launch earlier this month at Florida’s Cape Canaveral sent its stock price tumbling, and shareholders filed a lawsuit.
Keeter worked for Astra before he was Alaska Aerospace’s chief executive. He said failure is part of the business, and that other space start-ups have experienced similar speed bumps.
“This is not unusual. I compare it a lot to the aviation industry when it first started, There was a lot of mishaps to make aircraft fly,” he said. “You’re going to have those with the new industry coming up and growing and using new technology and new mechanisms to do it … the companies are doing a phenomenal job of making sure they execute the operation safely, and that’s the most critical part.”
Astra executives haven’t said much about the upcoming launch, but the company did release a statement this week that it’s still investigating the cause of this month’s launch failure in Florida. Astra said that the Federal Aviation Administration will provide oversight and review the findings of its final report.
Meanwhile, a new launch window has been set for Astra’s launch in Kodiak. Alaska Aerospace says it’s slated to happen between March 8 and March 15.