TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Another rocket is scheduled to liftoff from the east coast of Florida Sunday but this will be the rocket’s first time launching from the lower 48.

Astra Space has designed a shorter, more cost effective rocket that will launch small satellites into orbit.

The rocket is just 43 feet tall. In comparison, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands about 230 feet high. This new rocket was designed specifically for smaller payloads.

This will be the first launch with a real payload of satellites. A successful November launch from Alaska reached orbit with a test payload.

Saturday’s launch was given a 30% chance of favorable weather during the three hour launch window starting at 2:10 p.m. EST from Cape Canaveral. There is a backup window 24 hours later Sunday if needed with just a 60% chance of favorable weather.

Students from the University of Alabama, New Mexico State University, the University of California, Berkley as well as scientists at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston all developed different mini satellites that will conduct research and demonstrate new technologies in low earth orbit if the launch is successful.

NASA awarded the California based company a $3.9 million contract as part of their Venture Class Launch Services Demonstration 2 program. Two other companies were selected for contracts as well to design and launch miniature satellites which do have a lower cost to make but are playing big role in research and technology demonstration in orbit.

NASA says the launch of “small satellites can tolerate a higher level of risk than larger missions.”



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