Astra Space

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Astra Space, formerly known as Ventions LLC, is a launch vehicle company based in San Francisco, California, that develops pump-fed, liquid bipropellant propulsion engines for DARPA and NASA.[1][2] Astra Space is a technology provider for DARPA's Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program, and worked on the Small Air Launch Vehicle to Orbit (SALVO) program,[3][4] a pathfinder air-launched vehicle for placement of cubesat sized payloads into low Earth orbit, in 2014. Building on that experience, Astra Space is working towards the first orbital launch of their Astra launch vehicle in late 2019 or early 2020.[5][6]


Astra Space was founded as Ventions LLC in 2005 as a technology development and services company. Initial work focused on a novel fabrication technique to realize fine featured injectors and cooling channels in rocket engines no more than a few centimeters in size. This was followed by use of the same technique to manufacture small impellers having blade heights as small as 0.020 inches (0.51 mm), and demonstration of small-scale turbomachinery-based pumps for on-board pressurization of propellants.[7]

In September 2016, Ventions LLC was reincorporated as Astra Space, Inc.[8]

Two suborbital test flights were conducted in 2018: one on 20 July, and one on 29 November. Both were launch failures, though for the latter attempt the company was reportedly "very pleased with the outcome of the launch."[9]


As of July 2019, Astra Space is currently integrating propulsion systems, avionics and other pressurization / plumbing components into a high performance electric pump fed orbital launch vehicle.[8] This vehicle, Astra, will have a payload capacity of approximately 100 kg to low earth orbit, and is planned for a maiden launch between 23 September 2019 and 1 March 2020 from Kodiak Launch Complex.[5][10][11]


Astra Space is based in Alameda, California.[9]

It also has a small presence in Washington DC, and a dedicated test-site for hot-fire testing of rocket engines and launch vehicle stages at Castle Airport in Atwater, California.


  1. ^ "Darpa Revisits Air Launch With Focus On Cost". Aviation Week. 25 June 2012.
  2. ^ "Contracts awarded by NASA to Ventions, LLC". NASA (SBIR/STTR). Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  3. ^ Jeff Foust (2 June 2014). "DARPA Developing Operational Pathfinder for ALASA Air Launch System". Space News. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  4. ^ Jeff Foust (30 June 2014), Air launch, big and small, The Space Review
  5. ^ a b Krebs, Gunter. "NSLSAT 1". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  6. ^ Messier, Doug (26 March 2018). "A Closer Look at Astra Space". Parabolic Arc. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  7. ^ "Small, Light-Weight Pump Technology for On-Board Pressurization of Propellants in a Mars Ascent Vehicle".
  8. ^ a b Brügge, Norbert (6 December 2018). "Astra Space – Astra NLV". Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  9. ^ a b Foust, Jeff (6 December 2018). "Astra Space suborbital launch fails". SpaceNews. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  10. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "Astra". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  11. ^ "FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION APPLICATION FOR SPECIAL TEMPORARY AUTHORITY – Astra Space". Federal Communications Commission. 18 July 2019. Retrieved 23 July 2019.

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