It was the first of three planned TROPICS missions this year by Astra, each carrying two NASA CubeSats about the size of a loaf of bread, to complete the hurricane-watching constellation. Their three-mission TROPICS deal with NASA is worth a total of $7.95 million for the company.
By using three pairs of TROPICS satellites, each in a different orbit, NASA hoped to monitor hurricanes and tropical storms every hour. It’s unclear if the agency can still do that with just four satellites, or if the two lost in today’s launch failure will be replaced.
The TROPICS mission was the first of three planned by Astra this year, each carrying two NASA CubeSats approximately the size of a loaf of bread to finish the hurricane-watching constellation. The three-mission TROPICS contract with NASA is worth $7.95 million in total.
Astra Has Failed To Launch Hurricane Satellites
NASA wanted to monitor hurricanes and tropical storms every hour by utilizing 3 pairs of TROPICS satellites, each in a different orbit. It is unknown if the agency can do this with only four satellites or if the two lost in today’s launch accident will be replaced. Astra’s unsuccessful launch on Sunday marks the company’s second this year. Astra failed to launch four NASA CubeSats as part of the ELaNa 41 mission in February, which was also staged from its Florida launch pad and represented the company’s first effort to launch payloads for a client. A problem with the rocket’s payload fairing was to blame, and Astra fixed the problem to prevent it from happening again.
A month later, Astra’s LV0009 rocket successfully delivered client cargoes into orbit from the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Alaska’s Kodiak Island, in which the corporation had previously launched four test missions. In November 2021, one of those test flights resulted in the company’s first flawless orbital launch.