Update for 1:31 p.m. ET: Astra is now targeting a 1:43 p.m. EDT (1743 GMT) launch for two hurricane survey cubesats from NASA’s TROPICS mission.
Astra is aiming to score its second consecutive satellite deployment success today.
The Californian startup is targeting the launch of two tiny cubesats for NASA’s Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) mission.
Astra and NASA will attempt liftoff during a two-hour window that opens at 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT). The launch will take place from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and involve Astra’s 0010 (LV0010) launcher, which is 43 feet (13 meters) high. You can watch it live here on Space.com, courtesy of Astra, or directly through the company and its live streaming partner, NASASpaceflight.com.
Video: Watch the launch of Astra’s Rocket 3.2 on its first successful flight
The two-stage LV0010 appears to be ready to go; The rocket passed a static firing test – a routine pre-flight check in which a launch vehicle’s engines are fired while the vehicle remains anchored to the ground – earlier this week, Astra announced via Twitter (opens in a new tab).
The flight of LV0010 will take place approximately three months after Astra’s first-ever full mission success. March 15 LV0009 deployed a variety of client payloads into their designated orbit shortly after lifting off from the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Kodiak Island in Alaska.
Successful static shot for @NASA TROPICS-1! #AdAstra pic.twitter.com/Ibm2GvW2GyJune 6, 2022
astra reached orbit beforebut that was on a test flight that carried no operational satellites.
The upcoming launch will be the first of three TROPICS flights for Astra this year, if all goes to plan. Each of these missions will project two TROPICS cubesats, which will study in detail the formation and evolution of hurricanes.
The TROPICS network will allow researchers to monitor tropical cyclone development nearly hourly — far more frequently than is possible with currently operational weather satellites, NASA officials said.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated twice on Saturday, June 11, to include the launch time announced by Astra and to add a link to the Astra/NASASpaceflight.com live stream.
Mike Wall is the author of “The low (opens in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in a new tab) Or on Facebook (opens in a new tab).