Spire Lemur cubesat
Seraphim was an early investor in Spire's satellite constellation, which is set for a $475 million boost following a SPAC merger this summer. Credit: Spire

WASHINGTON — Small launch vehicle developer Astra Space announced Aug. 12 it has a contract with Spire Global to launch some of that company’s smallsats.

Astra said it will begin launching Spire satellites in the spring of 2022 but did not disclose how many satellites or how many launches are covered under the agreement, or the value of the launch contract.

Spire operates a constellation of about 100 three-unit cubesats that collect a variety of data, such as global navigation satellite system radio occultation data used for weather forecasting, ADS-B signals for tracking aircraft and AIS signals for maritime tracking. The company has relied primarily on rideshare launch opportunities to deploy and replenish its constellation, such as SpaceX’s Transporter-2 dedicated rideshare mission that launched June 30.

Spire is part of a series of customer announcements made by Astra in recent weeks. The company said Aug. 5 it won a contract with the U.S. Space Force for two launches of its Rocket 3 vehicle, including the company’s next launch scheduled for no earlier than Aug. 27 from Kodiak, Alaska. Astra previously announced a contract with Planet as well as two separate awards from NASA.

The Space Force’s Rocket Systems Launch Program said Aug. 9 that it was adding Astra to its Orbital Services Program (OSP) 4 contract vehicle for smallsat launches, along with ABL Space Systems and Relativity Space. They join eight other companies that have been part of OSP-4 since it was created in 2019, making them eligible to compete for 20 missions over nine years.

Astra announced Aug. 11 it added Michèle Flournoy to its board of directors. Flournoy was undersecretary of defense for policy from 2009 to 2012 and was a leading candidate to become secretary of defense in the Biden administration.

“Michèle is an extraordinary executive and uniquely qualified to provide guidance and insight on our aspiration to provide launch services to government and commercial customers,” Chris Kemp, chief executive of Astra, said in a statement.

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...