Astra Space slides 24% after its test rocket for the US Space Force failed to reach orbit

Astra Space
‘s LV0006 test launch on Saturday. Astra Space
  • Astra Space shares dropped 24% Monday after a rocket it launched in Alaska failed to reach orbit.
  • The LV0006 launch vehicle reached an altitude of about 31 miles (50km) before it the flight was ordered to shut down.
  • Saturday’s launch was a test payload for the US Space Force.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Astra Space shares were knocked down by more than 20% on Monday after the company’s rocket launch over the weekend ended without the vehicle reaching orbit.

One of five main engines on the company’s LV0006 launch vehicle shut down just after liftoff on Saturday afternoon, causing it to slowly lift off the pad before resuming its trajectory, Astra said in a statement. The test flight, conducted at the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak, Alaska, ended after an all-engine shutdown was ordered after about 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

Saturday’s launch was a test payload for the US Space Force, a branch of the US Air Force founded in 2019. The vehicle reached an altitude of about 50 kilometers, or 31 miles (50km), before safely returning to Earth.

Astra shares plunged as much as 24% to $US8.87 ($AU12) before paring the loss to 20%. The stock, which began trading on July 1, had lost 9.5% through Friday’s session.

The rocket manufacturer said it has opened a mishap investigation of its first commercial orbital launch and is working with the Federal Aviation Administration. The test was the company’s first since going public through a merger with special purpose acquisition company Holicity.

“We regret that we were unable to accomplish all mission objectives for the U.S. Space Force; however, we captured a tremendous amount of data from this test flight,” Chris Kemp, Astra’s founder and CEO, said in a statement. “We will incorporate learnings from this test into future launch vehicles, including LV0007, which is currently in production.”

The space industry has been in the trading spotlight this year, with space tourism in focus as Virgin Galactic on July 11 flew crew members, including billionaire founder, Richard Branson, to the edge of space.

Also in July, Blue Origin, the space company owned by Jeff Bezos, went to space during an 11-minute flight.