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Rocket Report: Chinese rocket fails, Starship may make a leap in October

Enlarge / The flight of Astra’s rocket looked smooth coming off the pad. (credit: John Kraus for Astra)

Welcome to Edition 3.16 of the Rocket Report! This week, we have a couple of small-launch failures to discuss, as well as schedule slippages for the debut of European and Japanese rockets. Finally, Europe’s next heavy-lift rocket, the Ariane 6, has been showing signs of progress.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don’t want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

Astra launches its first orbital rocket. Following months of technical and weather delays, Astra launched its first orbital rocket, Ars reports. The vehicle launched on September 11 from a spaceport in southern Alaska. The small rocket’s five main engines lit several seconds before liftoff, and Rocket 3.1 appeared to climb straight and true for about 15 seconds before it began to sway back and forth a little bit. Later, the company’s co-founder and chief technology officer, Adam London, explained that a problem with the rocket’s computerized guidance system introduced a slight roll oscillation. Local video of the launch and explosion can be seen here.

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