Astra rocket fails to deliver two NASA satellites into orbit

The upper stage of the Astra rocket was closed before the payload was delivered to orbit.

The upper stage of the Astra rocket was closed before the payload was delivered to orbit.
picture: NASA

NASA lost two small satellites on Sunday after a rocket malfunctioned on its way to orbit. TROPICS CubeSats were the first pair A constellation of six satellites designed to study tropical cyclones, but the space agency still hopes to launch the remaining four, Pending investigation of failed delivery.

The private space company Astra’s launch vehicle 0010 lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 1:43 p.m. ET, carrying a pair of Shoebox-sized satellites. It was launch delay With nearly two hours as the ground teams worked to ensure that the liquid oxygen fuel was at the correct temperature. Shortly after launch, the rocket’s upper stage prematurely closed, preventing it from delivering its charge into Earth’s orbit.

“Although today’s launch with the Astra did not go as planned, the mission provided an incredible opportunity for new science and launch capabilities,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Division, Wrote on Twitter. “Project Earth missions, like this one, are low-cost opportunities to send #NASAScience into space. It also provides more opportunities for researchers to get into space.”

Cube satellites were part of NASA Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation Structure and Storm Intensity with Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS), a mission designed to study tropical storms as they form and develop around the world. The TROPICS satellites were supposed to spread across three orbital planes in order to cover more parts of the world at a more frequent rate than current weather satellites.

The mission is part of NASA’s Earth Venture program, which is defined as “low-cost, high-risk missions.” Astra was founded in 2016 with the goal of launching small, low-cost rockets into space, but its rockets don’t always complete the journey; The California-based company has so far experienced five failed orbital launches out of seven attempts, according to to SpaceFlightNow. In February, NASA’s first launch with Astra ended in shame After the car breaks down before reaching orbit, Resulting in the loss of four CubeSats. This latest incident now makes it a failed launch of the partnership between NASA and Astra.

The remaining four TROPICS CubeSats were scheduled to launch in July, but NASA He said It will “stop the launch effort with Astra while an investigation is underway.” However, it appears that NASA is intent on launching the remainder of the constellation of small satellites. “Despite the loss of the first two of the six satellites, the Tropics will still meet its scientific goals with the remaining four CubeSats distributed in two orbits,” NASA wrote in a letter. statement. “With four satellites, TROPICS will continue to provide improved and time-enhanced observations of tropical cyclones compared to traditional monitoring methods.”

Well, they say the third time is magic. Hopefully, NASA’s upcoming launch with the Astra will be much better.

more: NASA’s delayed launch causes a headache on a long-ride mission

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