SpaceTechnology

Spire signs a launch deal with Astra

Astra Space, a tiny launch vehicle developer, said on August 12 that it had signed a deal with Spire Global to deploy several of the latter’s smallsats. Astra stated that it would start deploying Spire satellites in the 2022 spring season but did not specify how many satellites, how many launches or the amount of the launch contract are covered under the deal.

Spire manages a constellation of around 100 three-unit cubesats, which collect a range of data, including GNSS radio occultation data for weather prediction, ADS-B signals for airplane monitoring, and AIS signals for maritime tracking. SpaceX has mostly depended on rideshare launch opportunities to deploy and refill its constellation, like SpaceX’s Transporter-2 dedicated rideshare mission, which launched on June 30.

Astra has made a succession of customer announcements in recent weeks, including Spire. The company announced on August 5 that it had obtained a contract with the US Space Force for two Rocket 3 launches, the first of which is slated for August 27 from Kodiak, Alaska. Astra had already announced a partnership with Planet and also two NASA awards.

The Space Force’s Rocket Systems Launch Program announced on August 9 that Astra, along with ABL Space Systems and Relativity Space, would be included in its Orbital Services Program (OSP) 4 contract vehicle for smallsat launches. They join eight other firms that have been a part of the OSP-4 since its inception in 2019, allowing them to contest for 20 missions over nine years.

Michèle Flournoy was appointed to Astra’s board of directors on August 11th. From 2009 until 2012, Flournoy served as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and was a prominent candidate in the Biden administration for Secretary of Defense. In a statement, Chris Kemp, CEO of Astra, said, “Michèle is an excellent leader and uniquely prepared to provide guidance and insight on our aim to deliver launch services to commercial and government customers.”

The Senior Director who is in charge of the Constellation Planning and Operations at the Spire Global, Robert Sproles, commented on the contract, saying, “Our platform demands regular and secure access to space.” The dedicated launch service provided by Astra will give us the freedom to deploy our satellites to the precise orbits they demand, on our schedule.”

Astra, situated in Alameda, California, is a launch vehicle manufacturer. Adam London and Chris Kemp founded Astra in October of 2016. In a Bloomberg L.P. piece by Ashlee Vance, the firm formally came out as the Astra Space, Inc., after previously being known in the media as “Stealth Space Company.”

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