Update for 2 pm ET: LAUNCH FAILURE – Astra reports that their TROPICS-1 mission ended in failure after the second stage engine of their 0010 Rocket launch vehicle shut down earlier than planned. The rocket was unable to carry its two TROPICS cubesats into NASA orbit. Read our full launch failure story.
Astra aims to achieve its second consecutive satellite deployment success today.
The California-based startup is targeting Sunday (June 12) for the launch of two small cubesats for NASA’s Time-Resolved Storm Intensity and Precipitation Structure Observations with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) mission.
Astra and NASA will attempt liftoff during a two-hour window that opens at 12 pm EDT (1600 GMT). The launch will take place from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and involves Astra’s 43-foot-tall (13-meter) Launch Vehicle 0010 (LV0010). You can watch it live here on Space.com, courtesy of Astra, or directly through the company and its live streaming partner, NASASpaceflight.com.
Video: Watch Astra’s Rocket 3.2 launch on its first successful flight
The two-stage LV0010 appears to be ready to go; The rocket passed a static fire test, a routine pre-flight check in which a launcher’s engines are fired while the vehicle remains anchored to the ground, earlier this week. Astra announced via Twitter (opens in a new tab).
LV0010’s flight will come about three months after the success of Astra’s first full mission. March 15 LV0009 implemented a variety of client payloads into its designated orbit shortly after liftoff from the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Alaska’s Kodiak Island.
Successful static fire for @NASA TROPICS-1! #AdAstra pic.twitter.com/Ibm2GvW2GyJune 6, 2022
aster had reached orbit beforebut that was on a test flight that did not carry any operational satellites.
The upcoming launch will be the first of three TROPICS flights for Astra this year, if all goes according to plan. Each of those missions will carry two TROPICS cubesats, which will study the formation and evolution of hurricanes in great detail.
The TROPICS network will allow researchers to monitor tropical cyclone development nearly every hour, much more frequently than is possible with currently operational weather satellites, NASA officials said.
Publisher’s note: This story was updated twice on Saturday, June 11 to include Astra’s announced launch time and to add a link to the Astra/NASASpaceflight.com live stream.
Mike Wall is the author of “out there (opens in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; Illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @migueldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacepointcom (opens in a new tab) or in Facebook (opens in a new tab).