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Astra prepares to launch NASA CubeSats to monitor tropical storms

The NASA TROPICS mission consists of a constellation of six small satellites that will observe tropical cyclones, aiming to improve the scientific community’s understanding of these dangerous weather events.

Astra Space, Inc. (NASDAQ; $ASTR) preparing to conduct the first of three launches of NASA cubesats to monitor tropical storms.

The company announced on June 8 that it was ready for the launch of two Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) CubeSats on its Rocket 3.3 vehicle from Cape Canaveral on June 12. The launch is the first of three under a NASA contract awarded in February 2021 valued at $7.95 million.

The launch window for Rocket 3.3 "LV0010" with a pair of TROPICS (No.2 & 3) opens at 12pm ET / 9am PT (1600 UTC) on Sunday, June 12,

Astra Rocket 3 "LV0010" installed at SLC-46 (Credit: Astra)

The TROPICS mission will launch a constellation of small cubesats to capture key storm measurements—moisture, temperature and precipitation—to help predict the direction and intensity of storms. TROPICS is made up of six 3U cubesats, orbiting three different planes. This constellation will yield a revisit rate of less than 1 hour, which will be much more helpful in forecasting and storm preparation! By reducing the size, cost and power consumption, more satellites can be launched into orbit and significantly increase coverage and data collection. This approach aligns very well with Astra’s strategy of designing a smaller, lower-cost rocket that can be produced at scale for frequent, dedicated launches to precise inclinations.