Rocket builder Astra Space reached orbit for the first time with its rocket LV0007.

The company on Saturday launched the rocket, which carried a test payload for the US Space Force, from the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak, Alaska, CNBC reported.

After getting off the ground, the rocket reached its target orbit about nine minutes later at an altitude of about 500 kilometers.

“This is an incredibly hard thing to do,” Astra CEO Chris Kemp said on the company’s webcast.

“The team’s worked so hard on this for so many years and … seeing iteration after iteration, failure after failure lead to success; everyone is just incredibly passionate,” Kemp added.

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Astra now joins SpaceX, Rocket Lab, and Virgin Orbit in the group of US companies that have reached orbit with a privately-funded rocket, the report said.

The company’s rocket is 43 feet tall and fits in the small rocket segment of the launch market.

Astra reached space for the first time in December 2020, but it did not make it to orbit.

It attempted to reach orbit first in August, but slid off the pad sideways before ultimately failing to reach orbit, the report said.

Astra then investigated the cause of the misfire and found it to be caused by an early engine shutdown. It set the LV0007 launch for the end of October, which was shifted due to unfavourable weather.

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