London, 11 May 2023.- Rocket Lab successfully completed the first of two dedicated Electron launches on the 8th of May to deploy a constellation of tropical cyclone monitoring satellites for NASA reports Business Wire.
The ‘Rocket Like a Hurricane’ launch had lift-off at 13:00 NZST from the Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. Two of the four CubeSats that will comprise the TROPICs constellation (Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats) were on board. The TROPICS constellation will monitor the formation and evolution of tropical cyclones and intends to provide rapidly updating observations of storm intensity.
“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 have deployed these spacecraft to their precise orbits before the upcoming storm season,” says Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and CEO. “We’re grateful to the NASA team for entrusting us with such a critical mission and we look forward to completing the constellation with the second Electron launch in the coming days.”
The constellation is part of NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder Program. Each pair of CubeSats must be launched to two specific orbital planes that are equally spaced 180 degrees opposite. These orbits over the Earth’s tropics allow the satellites to travel over any given storm about once an hour- compared to current weather tracking satellites which have a timing of about once every six hours.
The second launch called ‘Coming to a Storm Near You’ is expected to launch on another Electron rocket in approximately two weeks from Launch Complex 1. ‘Rocket Like a Hurricane’ was Rocket Lab’s fourth mission for 2023 and the Company’s 36th Electron mission overall. It brings the total number of satellites launched to orbit by Rocket Lab to 161.