Ignition demonstrates reliable electric propulsion (EP) system
24/08/2021 — ALAMEDA, Calif. — (BUSINESS WIRE)
Astra Space, Inc. (“Astra”) (Nasdaq: ASTR) today announced the successful orbital ignition of its Apollo Fusion thruster on board the Spaceflight Sherpa-LTE1 orbital transfer vehicle (OTV). The Sherpa OTV launched June 30, 2021 from SpaceX’s Transporter-2 mission from Cape Canaveral, Florida. After successfully deploying all rideshare payloads, Spaceflight commissioned the Apollo Fusion thruster, representing Astra’s first attempt at firing the thruster in orbit.
“The telemetry from the on-orbit firing looked excellent and closely matched our ground test results,” said Mike Cassidy, Vice President of Product Management at Astra. “We expect to deliver thrusters for additional satellites over the next quarter and these on-orbit test results provide further validation for several programs for which we are supplying propulsion systems.”
“This represents the industry’s first fully functional electric propulsion OTV,” said Philip Bracken, VP of Engineering at Spaceflight. “Our next-gen Sherpa OTVs were intentionally designed for maximum modularity, flexibility and rapid development including offering several innovative propulsion solutions. The successful commissioning and ignition of Apollo Fusion’s system paves the way for expanding orbital destinations for smallsats and is paramount in achieving our goal of getting our customers’ payloads to space whenever and wherever they want.”
Astra acquired Apollo Fusion in July 2021 to leverage Apollo Fusion’s shared focus on designing and manufacturing products at scale that can reach destinations beyond low Earth orbit.
“We’re incredibly proud of everyone who built this EP system,” said Benjamin Lyon, Chief Engineer at Astra. “This is an important milestone on our journey to provide rapid, low-cost access to space.”
About Astra Space
Astra’s mission is to improve life on Earth from space by creating a healthier and more connected planet. Astra’s first flight to space was within 4 years of its inception, making it the fastest company to reach space. Visit www.astra.com to learn more about Astra.
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