Rocket Lab USA, Inc., a leading launch and space systems company, is preparing for the second of two dedicated Electron launches to deploy a constellation of storm-monitoring satellites for NASA.
The launch, called ‘Coming To A Storm Near You,’ is scheduled for lift-off no earlier than 17:30 on May 22nd NZST from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. The launch follows on from the successful ‘Rocket Like a Hurricane’ Electron launch on May 8th 2023, which deployed the first two CubeSats of NASA’s TROPICS constellation. The ‘Coming To A Storm Near You’ launch will deploy the final two TROPICS CubeSats, completing the constellation.
The TROPICS constellation (Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats) will monitor the formation and evolution of tropical cyclones, including hurricanes, and will provide rapidly updating observations of storm intensity. This data will help scientists better understand the processes that affect these high-impact storms, ultimately leading to improved modeling and prediction. The constellation, which is part of NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder Program, consists of four CubeSats that require launch to a specific orbit at an altitude of 550 kilometers and inclination of about 30 degrees. All four satellites need to be deployed into their operational orbit within a 60-day period.
“We’re immensely proud to have successfully deployed the first two TROPICS satellites into their precise orbits and are now looking forward to delivering one more launch to complete the constellation ahead of storm season. Rocket Lab has an established track record of delivering back-to-back missions just days apart, enabling us to comfortably deliver on the tight launch timeline requirements for TROPICS,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck. “TROPICS aims to equip scientists and researchers with more accurate and timely storm data to provide better forecasts and advance warning to those in the path of devastating cyclones and hurricanes. It’s a privilege to be entrusted with launching the mission and we’re grateful for the continued support from the teams at NASA and MIT Lincoln Laboratory for the next launch.”
‘Coming To A Storm New You’ will be Rocket Lab’s fifth Electron mission for 2023 and the Company’s 37th launch overall since Rocket Lab’s first Electron launch in 2017. The TROPICS launches follow on from previous successful Electron missions for NASA, including the ELaNa-19 mission and CAPSTONE mission to the Moon and marks the first set of successful launches under the agency’s VADR (Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare) contract.