For the first time, Astra will launch an orbital rocket from the Lower 48.
Astra is preparing to launch the ELaNa 41 mission from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Feb. 5, Saturday, the California company announced via Twitter on Feb. 1, Tuesday.
ELaNa 41 will launch 6 tiny CubeSats as part of NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites initiative. Astra has been gearing up for the mission for a while now. For example, the company performed a prelaunch static fire test with its Rocket 3.3 vehicle at Cape Canaveral on Jan. 22 — but has had to wait for the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to issue a launch license.
It appears that the procedural box will soon be checked: Astra expects the license to be granted on Feb. 4, Friday company representatives said in a Tuesday tweet.
“Astra’s new license, issued in just three months, will, with planned modifications, make it easier to launch at a higher frequency out of more launch sites in the United States,” the company tweeted on Tuesday.
ELaNa 41 will be a milestone launch for Astra in many different ways. Astra’s first launch of operational satellites, which has reached orbit once to date, on a test mission for the United States military that lifted off in November 2021.
This weekend’s launch will be Astra’s first from the Lower 48 states. The company has performed 4 orbital test launches from the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Alaska to date.