Astra rocket fails to deliver 2 small satellites after launch, NASA says
by Clyde Hughes
Washington DC (UPI) Jun 12, 2022
NASA said a rocket carrying two small weather satellites failed Sunday, preventing the inauguration of a technology that would have helped better forecast hurricanes.
The rocket by California-based Astra lifted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, but the rocket's second stage malfunctioned before reaching orbit and lost the shoebox-sized technology.
"After a nominal first stage flight, the upper stage of the rocket shut down early and failed to deliver the TROPICS CubeSats to orbit," NASA said in a statement.
The space agency added: "NASA's Launch Services Program, which managed the launch service for the mission, continues to work with emerging launch providers to deliver low-cost science missions into orbit through contracts that align with commercial practices, using less NASA oversight to achieve lower launch costs."
Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said that while Sunday's launch failed, it will provide valuable lessons for future missions.
"Even though we are disappointed right now, we know there is value in taking risks in our overall NASA science portfolio because innovation is required for us to lead," Zurbuchen said on Twitter.
"I am confident that in the future we will succeed in using this valuable launch capability to explore the unknown and give others the same opportunity to inspire the world through discovery," Zurbuchen said.
The goal of the TROPICS mission is to monitor tropical storm development in near real time by flying over hurricanes and other major systems every 45 to 50 minutes to measure temperature, precipitation, water vapor and cloud ice data.
"Measuring hurricanes from space is really hard to do because they're very dynamic, they're changing on the timescales of minutes, you need to spatially resolve all the features of the storm, the eyes, the rain bands," said William Blackwell, principal investigator of the TROPICS mission at MIT, according to CBS News.
CIRCE space weather suite announced for first UK satellite launch
London, UK (SPX) Jun 08, 2022
The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory's (Dstl) miniaturised space weather instrumentation suite will be one of the payloads aboard Virgin Orbit which is targeting the first UK satellite launch this summer from Spaceport Cornwall in Newquay. Virgin Orbit's Launcher One rocket takes off horizontally, carried aloft by a modified Boeing 747 jet, named Cosmic Girl. The Coordinated Ionospheric Reconstruction Cubesat Experiment (CIRCE) satellite mission comprises two 6U cube-satellites that will ... read more
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