Eric Van Dongen captured an Astra rocket launch, crash, and explode while hunting on Kodiak Island on Friday.
The video starts as the rocket ascends into the air. “Pretty cool,” you can hear the hunter say while he films the launch. The rocket continues to raise up, with a trail of fire, but then begins to wobble. The rocket’s fire goes out and it begins spinning mid-air. While spinning, the rocket begins its quick descend back to the earth, which ends in a huge mushroom fire cloud explosion. Van Dongen catches it all on tape, saying “That, I don’t think was good,” as the rocket reaches its demise.
The explosion is not far from the two hunters who caught the rocket on tape. The man he is hunting with says as the video ends, “It wasn’t that far away Eric. I mean, that is really close to where we were hunting this morning.” The video on Facebook has nearly two thousand likes and reactions on it now.
The rocket belonged to Astra, a company “on a mission to provide daily access to space,” according to their website. This launch of ‘Rocket 3.1’ is the company’s first orbital attempt. Astra sent live tweet updates during the launch. In their announcements, they updated as they set up the rocket, and counted down to take off.
After the launch that ended in the large explosion seen in Van Dongen’s clip, Astra announced the successful fly out and flight end. Elon Musk, the founder, CEO, CTO, chief designer of SpaceX and certified genius, replied to the new space company’s tweet. He assured Astra that they are on the right track, explaining it took four launches for SpaceX to reach orbit.
Astra quickly replied their thanks, adding they feel motivated by the day’s flight.
In a blog about the liftoff, Astra explains, Rocket 3.1 gave the team a “valuable experience, plus even more valuable flight data.” Not only was this the company’s first orbital attempt, but it was also “the first flight of a rocket designed from the ground-up for low-cost mass production and highly-automated launch operation”
Furthermore, “the entire launch system was deployed by six people in less than a week,” which they call “unprecedented.”
Astra also notes they have two more flights (Rocket 3.2 and 3.3) in the works to reach their goal of orbiting. The blog assures readers, “Once we reach orbit, we will relentlessly continue to improve the economics of the system as we deliver our customers’ payloads.”