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Rocket Lab successfully launches 2 NASA storm-monitoring satellites
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Rocket Lab successfully launches 2 NASA storm-monitoring satellites
by Darryl Coote
Washington DC (UPI) May 8, 2021

U.S.-based Rocket Lab Electron successfully launched a pair of NASA storm-monitoring satellites from New Zealand on Monday.

The Rocket Like A Hurricane mission with two CubeSats on board launched shortly after 1 p.m. Monday from Rocket Lab Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula on the archipelago nation's east coast.

"After 36 launches, we're still not sick of this view," Rocket Lab said in the caption of a tweet with a photo of the rocket lifting off.

The mission deployed two of four CubeSats that will create a constellation of tropical cyclone monitoring satellites for NASA that are known by the acronym TROPICS, meaning Time-Resolved Observations of precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats.

According to NASA, the constellation with provide rapid-refresh microwave measurements over the tropics to better understand storm systems.

The satellites were launched on two separate orbital planes spaced 180 degrees opposite, Rocket Lab said in a statement, stating the unique orbits over Earth's tropics will allow the orbitals to traverse over any storm at an hour interval, which is better than the six hours of current weather tracking satellites.

"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," Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and chief executive, said in a statement.

"We're grateful to the NASA team for entrusting us with such a critical mission."

NASA confirmed in a statement that two TROPICS CubeSats had been successfully deployed and that its team was working toward signal acquisition, which could take some time to establish.

The second pair of CubeSats are scheduled to launch aboard Rocket Lab's Coming To A Storm Near You rocket in about two weeks time, also from Mahia's Complex 1.

The launch comes nearly a year after California-based Astra failed to deploy two of the small weather satellites in what was to be the inauguration of the technology.

The launch is also Rocket Lab's fourth of the year and its 36th Electron mission overall.

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