TROPICS stands for Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation Structure and Storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats, and the payload is two of six small satellites that make up the mission.
The small rocket stands only 38 feet tall with a payload capacity of 331 pounds. The company leases use of the Canaveral launch pad from Space Florida, the state’s aerospace economic development agency.
An exact time for the first launch attempt has not been announced.
The Alameda, California-based company was contracted for three launches to place the six NASA satellites into three different orbits during a 120-day window before July 31, 2022. The TROPICS mission, which will be run out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory in collaboration with NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, seeks to provide more reliable measurements of tropical storms and hurricanes looking at precipitation, temperature and humidity.
The LV0010 Rocket 3.3 conducted a successful test fire this week at Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, and the business said the potential launch is awaiting a launch authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The launch will be the second time Astra has attempted to lift off from the Space Coast. A previous launch attempt this year was able to lift off, but not successful deploying its payloads. The company has made two successful orbital launches from Alaska.
Astra joins SpaceX and United Launch Alliance on the growing list of private rockets launching from the Space Coast. Before the end of 2023, both Relativity Space’s 3-D printed Terran 1 and Blue Origin’s massive New Glenn rocket could see their first action from Canaveral, while ULA also plans on welcoming its new rocket, the Vulcan Centaur.