SMC partnering with Astra for upcoming Space Force launch

The United States Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center is partnering with Astra to perform a demonstration launch for DOD from the Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska in Kodiak later this month.
Astra is an U.S.-owned launch vehicle company based in Alameda, Calif.

The mission, designated STP-27AD1, is part of the Defense Department’s Space Test Program’s Rapid Agile Launch Initiative and it is the first DOD mission to utilize Astra’s Rocket 3 launch vehicle.

As part of RALI, the STP-27AD1 mission will demonstrate commercially available solutions for placing Space Force satellite capabilities on orbit, proving flexibility and resiliency for the U.S. Space Force to meet war fighter requirements in an increasingly contested environment. 

“We’re excited to partner with Astra under the Rapid Agile Launch Initiative.” said Col. Carlos Quinones, director of the Space Test Program. “Astra’s pursuit of more flexible and cost effective space access could be a key enabler for our pivot to a more resilient enterprise space architecture.”

The DOD Space Test Program at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. manages the STP-27AD1 mission. This SMC unit delivers experimental demonstrations of new capabilities and expedient space access solutions for research and development experiments. 

STP procured this RALI mission in partnership with Defense Innovation Unit.  The initiative leverages DIU’s Commercial Solutions Opening process to competitively and rapidly award DOD launch service agreements with non-traditional, commercial Venture Class companies.  Any future Space Force small launch endeavors outside of the STP RALI will be contracted under SMC’s Launch Enterprise’s Small Launch and Targets Division, which focuses on small, innovative launch solutions.

“It is an honor to serve the United States by building a more resilient space program,” said Martin Attiq, chief business officer of Astra. “This new contract simplifies the process to make responsive launch a critical and credible capability for our nation.”

The Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is the U.S. Space Force’s Center of Excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems.  SMC’s portfolio includes space launch, global positioning, military space vehicle communications, defense meteorological space vehicles, range systems, space vehicle control networks, space-based infrared systems, and space domain awareness capabilities.

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