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Astra LV0010 rocket with Two NASA satellites fell short of orbit.

Astra rocket carrying two small hurricane-tracking satellites for NASA failed to reach after a major malfunction shortly after liftoff.

Astra rocket LV0010 liftoff with two small hurricane-tracking satellites for NASA TROPICS mission (Photo Credit: NasaSpaceFlight Stream, Astra)

June 12, 2022 The Astra Space, Inc.(NASDAQ; $ASTR) rocket, Rocket 3.3 called Launch Vehicle 0010 (LV0010), suffered a second-stage failure after lifting off from a pad LC-46 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Sunday (June 12) at 1:43 p.m. EDT (1743 UTC). Two NASA CubeSats, the first of a six-satellite fleet to track hurricanes as part of a $30 million mission, were lost in mission failure.

The Stage-2 failure were noted at T+07 minutes and 21 seconds into the flight, the Aether engine bursts a large plume (assuming its due to the sudden drop in pressure) and tumbled and suffers from attitude loss and began to spin, eventually falling short of orbit by 1000m/s, velocity at that point was 6531 m/s, or 14,700 mph; altitude was 531 km, or 330 miles. Astronomers estimated the vehicle was in a -1250 km perigee x 545 km apogee x 30.0 deg orbit at the time of the shutdown. Vehicle and payloads will have crashed in the Atlantic a few minutes later.

stage-2 mishap (Photo Credit: NasaSpaceFlight Stream, Astra)

While we are disappointed in the loss of the two TROPICS CubeSats, the mission is part of NASA’s Earth venture program, which provides opportunities for lower-cost, higher risk missions. Despite a loss of the first two of six satellites, the TROPICS constellation will still meet its science objectives with the four remaining CubeSats distributed in two orbits. With four satellites, TROPICS will still provide improved time-resolved observations of tropical cyclones compared to traditional observing methods - NASA