Space Cafe - Jessica - Banner

Rocket Lab to launch NASA Climate Change Research Missions

Rocket Lab electron vehicle. Credit Rocket Lab
Rocket Lab electron vehicle. Credit Rocket Lab

Ibadan, 1 May 2024. – Rocket Lab USA, Inc. has announced that it has begun preparation for two back-to-back Electron launches to deploy NASA’s PREFIRE (Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-InfraRed Experiment) mission. The two dedicated missions will each deploy one satellite to a 525km circular orbit from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand.

The first mission – named ‘Ready, Aim, PREFIRE’ – will tentatively launch no earlier than May 22, 2024. The launch date of the second mission – named ‘PREFIRE And Ice’ – takes place within three weeks of the successful deployment of the first PREFIRE mission. The missions will also be Rocket Lab’s 48th and 49th Electron launches overall and its sixth and seventh launches of 2024.

NASA’s PREFIRE mission is a climate change-focused mission that will systematically measure the heat, in the form of infrared and far-infrared wavelengths, lost from Earth’s polar regions for the first time. Once in their separate orbits, the two PREFIRE satellites will crisscross over the Arctic and Antarctica, measuring thermal infrared radiation that will make climate models more accurate and help predict changes as a result of global warming. PREFIRE consists of two 6U CubeSats with a baseline mission length of 10 months.

Speaking about the mission, Rocket Lab Founder and CEO, Peter Beck, said, “Helping climate scientists better understand climate change means they need precisely located measurements of Earth’s polar heat loss, which NASA’s PREFIRE mission is setting out to achieve, and helping the PREFIRE mission achieve its science objectives means its satellites need precise and accurate deployments to their locations in space.”

The CEO also added, “We have an excellent track record of delivering NASA’s payloads to exactly where they need to go and when they need to, and we’re looking forward to adding to that tally further with these next back-to-back launches.”

Check Also

Kuva Space Wins Contract to Join the ESA’s Civil Security

Finnish hyperspectral satellite and AI-powered insights company Kuva Space has won an €1.8 million contract to participate in the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Civil Security from Space (CSS) program to provide advanced hyperspectral situational awareness information for monitoring and mitigating civil security and crisis events.