Yesterday, the Astra rocket holding two small hurricane-tracking satellites for NASA failed to reach orbit after encountering a malfunction soon after liftoff. The Astra’s Rocket 3.3 failed approximately 10 minutes after a successful liftoff at 1:43 p.m. from a launchpad at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Astra’s Amanda Durk Frye, senior manager for the first stage and engine production, stated: “We had a nominal first stage flight; however, the upper-stage engine did shut down early and we did not deliver our payloads to orbit.”
Astra’s LV0010 mission was carrying the first satellites of NASA’s Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS), as part of the three planned TROPICS missions this year, to complete the hurricane-watching constellation.
According to Scott Braun, a research meteorologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, “TROPICS will give us very frequent views of tropical cyclones, providing insight into their formation, intensification, and interactions with their environment and providing critical data for storm monitoring and forecasting.”
Astra’s three-mission TROPICS deal with NASA is worth a total of $7.95 million.