Elon Musk praised Astra Space, a California-based company, for successfully reaching orbit for the first time.
On Saturday, the startup launched its LV0007 rocket from the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Kodiak Island, Alaska, CNBC reported.
After a smooth takeoff, the 43-foot rocket, carrying a test payload for the US Space Force, reached its target orbit after about nine minutes, at an altitude of 500 kilometers.
The achievement was praised by Elon Musk and other figures in the space industry. “Congratulations! Orbit is not easy,” the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla wrote in a tweet to Astra.
Astra is joining SpaceX, Rocket Lab & Virgin Orbit in the select group of U.S. space companies that have reached orbit with privately funded rocket, according to CNBC.
Astra CEO Chris Kemp said on the company’s webcast: “It’s an incredibly difficult thing to do,” CNBC reported.
“The team has been working hard on this for so many years and… seeing iteration after iteration, failure after failure leads to success; everyone is just incredibly passionate,” Kemp added.
The company’s launch follows a series of failed attempts to reach orbit. On its last attempt in August, one of the vehicle’s five main engines shut-down shortly after lift-off, Insider reported.
Astra hopes to launch as many of its small rockets as possible, striving to launch one per day by 2025, according to CNBC.
Meanwhile, Musk recently said SpaceX would fly its Starship spacecraft into orbit in early 2022. He warned, however, that the initial attempt could fail, Insider’s Kate Duffy reported.
SpaceX will perform tests in December, ahead of flying in January.
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