It cost the company its contract with NASA.

Owning Up

Mistakes are bound to happen in the fiery world of rocket launches.

In a statement released this week, space vehicle launch company Astra admitted it lost two out of six hurricane-tracking cubesats that belonged to NASA last summer worth nearly $8 million altogether — which led to the space agency looking to other vendors to get its remaining four satellites into space.

Last June, Astra's Rocket 3 failed to reach orbit following a second stage failure. As notes, initial investigations following the debacle found that the vehicle seemed to burn through its fuel supply much quicker than intended.

Astra later confirmed these findings, arguing that it happened due to a number of "small factors," including, bizarrely, that it was extra warm that day in Cape Canaveral, "which meant the fuel was slightly warmer than in prior flights."

Chain Reaction

Ultimately, the problem seems to have been the result of a series of unfortunate events that caused Astra to lose the two storm-tracking cubesats — and, in the end, the company's contract with NASA.

In fact, it wasn't even the last incident involving Astra's Rocket 3. The California-based company scrapped the design altogether last year following a whole series of launch failures. The company is now working on a new design called Rocket 4.

While it's a major setback for the space launch company, it's important for these kinds of government contractors to take responsibility when they mess up — and it's good to see some humility.

More on space issues: Elon Musk's SpaceX Satellites Are Messing Up the Hubble Space Telescope

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