Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, is preparing for the first of two dedicated Electron launches to deploy a constellation of storm monitoring satellites for NASA.
The first launch, called ‘Rocket Like a Hurricane,’ is scheduled for lift-off no earlier than 13:00 on May 8 NZST from Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. The launch window extends for two hours and there are back up opportunities throughout May should the launch date need to be adjusted.
The TROPICS constellation (Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats) will monitor the formation and evolution of tropical cyclones, including hurricanes, and will provide rapidly updating observations of storm intensity. This data will help scientists better understand the processes that effect these high-impact storms, ultimately leading to improved modelling and prediction. The constellation, which is part of NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder Program, consists of four CubeSats that require launch to a specific orbit at an altitude of 550 kilometers and inclination of about 30 degrees. All four satellites need to be deployed into their operational orbit within a 60-day period. The second launch ‘Coming To a Storm Near You’ is expected to launch approximately two weeks following the successful launch of “Rocket Like a Hurricane.”
“Electron has been providing reliable and dedicated launch for NASA since 2018, including a successful mission to the Moon last year, and it’s an honor to be entrusted once again for the TROPICS launches,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck. “We’re immensely grateful to play a role in equipping scientists and researchers with more accurate and timely data about the formation and intensity of tropical storms to help protect lives and livelihoods.”
‘Rocket Like a Hurricane’ will be Rocket Lab’s fourth Electron mission for 2023 and the Company’s 36 launch overall since Rocket Lab’s first Electron launch in 2017. The TROPICS launches follow on from previous successful Electron missions for NASA, including the ELaNa-19 mission and CAPSTONE mission to the Moon.