California-based Astra on
Sunday launched two shoebox-size NASA satellites from Cape Canaveral in a modest mission to improve hurricane forecasts
The second stage of the
company's low-cost booster malfunctioned before reaching orbit and the payloads were lost.
"The upper stage shut down early
and we did not deliver the payloads to orbit," Astra tweeted. "We have shared our regrets with @NASA and the payload team
It was the seventh
launch of Astra's small "Venture-class" rocket and the company's fifth failure.
Sunday's launch was
the first of three planned for NASA to launch six small CubeSats, two at a time, into three orbital planes.
The NASA contract calls
for the final two flights by the end of July. Whether Astra can meet that schedule given Sunday's failure is not yet known.