Watch NASA and Rocket Lab launch two CubeSats* into orbit for the TROPICS** mission from Launch Complex 1 Pad B in Māhia, New Zealand. TROPICS is a constellation (group) of four identical CubeSats designed to observe tropical cyclones from low Earth orbit, making observations more frequently than current weather tracking satellites. Satellites selected to date come from 29 states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. NASA is broadening the CubeSat Launch Initiative to promote a spacecraft nation and develop innovative technology partnerships among NASA, U.S. industry and educational institutions to build upon an existing successful initiative and expand it to include launching 50 small satellites from 50 states within five years. Watch it live on Facebook: Launch of Cyclone-Tracking TROPICS CubeSats from New Zealand (Official NASA Broadcast) | Facebook and NASA, Rocket Lab Set Coverage for Tropical Cyclones Mission | NASA
- First launch with two CubeSats is targeted for April 30, 2023 at 9 p.m. EDT (3 p.m. HT). There is a 2-hour launch window.
- Second launch with two additional CubeSats is targeted for Tuesday, May 16, 2023 at 4 p.m. EDT (10 a.m. HT)
* CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites, built to standard dimensions. The cube-shaped satellites are approximately four inches long and typically weigh less than 1.33 kg (3 lbs). CubeSats are flown as auxiliary payloads on previously planned missions. They address aspects of science, exploration, technology development, education or operations. They especially provide educational opportunities for students, teachers, and faculty. In this way, NASA assists the Nation in attracting and retaining students in STEM disciplines.
** TROPICS: Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats.