NASA loses two hurricane watch satellites at launch
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Washington (AFP) – Two small NASA satellites meant to study hurricane development failed to enter orbit on Sunday when their Astra rocket flamed out before reaching the necessary altitude, the US space agency said.
“After a nominal first flight, the rocket’s upper stage shut down early and failed to deliver the TROPICS CubeSats to orbit,” NASA’s Launch Services Program said on Twitter.
In a post on its website before launch, NASA described the TROPICS CubeSats as a constellation of six “shoebox”-sized satellites that “will study the formation and development of tropical cyclones, making sightings more often than is possible with the current weather.” satellites.”
Astra received a $7.95 million contract from NASA in February 2021 for three launches, each with a pair of TROPICS devices on board.
Hoping to become a key player in the market for launching small satellites, Astra promises more frequent launches with more flexibility than companies using larger rockets, such as SpaceX and Arianespace.
But the start-up has faced recurring problems with its iconic two-stage rocket failing to reach orbit.
In February, on another NASA CubeSat mission, Astra’s second stage failed to reach orbit due to a problem releasing the shells that cover the satellites during launch.
“We regret that we cannot deliver the first two TROPICS satellites,” Astra Chief Executive Chris Kemp said in a tweet on Sunday.
“Nothing is more important to our team than the trust of our customers and the successful delivery of the remaining TROPICS satellites.”
© 2022 AFP