A NASA mission run by Astra failed after its rocket failed to reach orbit. The rocket carried two TROPICS blocks to study hurricanes
On Sunday, June 12, an Astra rocket carrying NASA satellites suffered serious problems and was unable to reach Earth’s orbit. Astra is a California-based aerospace company on a satellite delivery mission for NASA. The satellites on the mission are a couple of cubes (miniature satellites) called Timed Observations of Precipitation Structure and Storm Intensity with Small Particle Constellations (TROPICS). This is the second time Astra has failed a NASA mission this year, with the previous mission set to take place in mid-February.
The rocket, Launch Vehicle 0010 (LV0010) was launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 11:13 PM IST. But soon, it malfunctioned in the second stage. “We had a nominal first-stage flight; however, the engine in the upper stage stopped working early and we didn’t send our payload to orbit.”
NASA mission fails after Astra rocket crashes
Formerly the Stealth Space Company, Astra was founded five years ago in 2016 by Chris Kemp and Adam London. Kemp later apologized in a tweet said, “We regret not being able to deliver the first two TROPICS satellites. For our team, nothing is more important than the trust of our customers and the successful delivery of the remaining TROPICS satellites. We will share more once we have fully reviewed the data.”
Astra is on a NASA-funded mission to deliver two TROPICS blocks that would have been used to track and study hurricanes. The satellites, which were part of a $30 million mission, were lost. The launch will be the first of three TROPICS missions planned for this year. After the third launch, the constellation of hurricane-watching satellites will be completed, giving the US space agency the opportunity to track hurricanes and tropical storms every hour. It remains to be seen if NASA can do it with just four satellites.
“TROPICS will provide us with very routine views of tropical cyclones, provide insight into their formation, intensity and interactions with their environment, and provide important data important for hurricane monitoring and forecasting,” said Scott Braun, meteorologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland speak before launch.