Astra plans first Florida launch for Saturday

Company plans to take off from launchpad 46, easternmost pad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station

Astra's first commercial launch from Alaska in November. (Brady Kenniston/Astra)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The private space company Astra is planning its first launch from Florida, set to take place on Saturday, Feb. 5.

“Astra expects @faanews to issue its first-ever Part 450 Launch License to Astra by Fri., Feb. 4. We have secured Sat., Feb. 5 with @SLDelta45 to launch @NASA‘s ELaNa 41 mission,” the company posted on Twitter.

The company plans to take off from launchpad 46, the easternmost pad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. According to News 6 partner Florida Today, Astra has requested a launch window from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

[TRENDING: Here are 33 vanity plates deemed too racy for Florida roads | Separation of SpaceX rocket could be seen with the naked eye due to ‘jellyfish effect’ | Become a News 6 Insider (it’s free!)]

The 45th Weather Squadron’s forecast is predicting a 60% chance of favorable weather conditions for Saturday’s launch. If the launch is delayed 24 hours, the forecast remains largely the same,.

Up to this point, Astra has only launched its Rocket 3.3 from Alaska.

Astra recently launched its first commercial payload into orbit for the U.S. Space Force on Nov. 18, according to the company’s website. That launch took place from a spaceport complex in Alaska.

When Astra delivered a Space Force payload in November, the company said it became the fastest to reach orbit with a privately developed rocket.

Astra’s Rocket 3.3 is an expendable, two-stage rocket that is designed to fit inside a standard shipping container, according to the company. The rocket’s first stage is only 43 feet tall when vertical and 52 inches, a little more than four feet, in diameter.

For comparison, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is nearly 230 feet tall when vertical and about 12 feet in diameter. The Falcon 9 is also reusable whereas the Rocket 3.3 is not.

Astra said the smaller size makes use of the Rocket 3.3 more affordable.

About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.