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Rocket Lab Launches First Set of TROPICS Satellites

Rocket Lab
Credit: Rocket Lab

Ibadan, 8 May 2023. – Rocket Lab has launched its ‘Rocket Like A Hurricane,’ the first of two dedicated Electron launches to deploy the TROPICS constellation for NASA. The launch took place from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 Pad A on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula on May 8, deploying two of the four CubeSats that comprise the TROPICS constellation.

The TROPICS (Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation Structure and Storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats) constellation 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 cause these high-impact storms, ultimately leading to improved modeling and prediction. Furthermore, 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.

In addition, all four satellites require deployment into their operational orbit within a 60-day period. The second launch, ‘Coming To a Storm Near You’ will tentatively launch approximately two weeks following the successful launch of “Rocket Like a Hurricane.”

‘Rocket Like a Hurricane’ is Rocket Lab’s fourth Electron mission for 2023 and the Company’s 36th 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.

Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck said: “The TROPICS constellation has the real potential to save lives by providing more timely data about storm intensity and providing advance warning to those in storm paths, so it’s an immense privilege to deploy these spacecraft to their precise orbits before the upcoming storm season.”

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