Two more satellites are orbiting the Earth, this time over the tropics, following another successful mission by Long Beach-based Rocket Lab Sunday night.
Dubbed “Rocket Like a Hurricane,” the company’s Electron rocket blasted off from the company’s New Zealand launch complex at 6 p.m. Long Beach time carrying two CubeSats for NASA’s Time-Resolved Observations Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats—or TROPICS constellation for short.
“The TROPICS constellation has the real potential to save lives by providing more timely data about storm intensity and providing advance warning to those in storm paths, so it’s an immense privilege to have deployed these spacecraft to their precise orbits before the upcoming storm season,” Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck said in a statement.
The mission was the first of two for the constellation, which will be composed of four satellites. Sunday’s launch delivered the satellites to a unique orbit 550 kilometers above the Earth’s surface.
TROPICS will monitor the formation and evolution of tropical cyclones, including hurricanes, in order to provide more rapid updates on storm intensity, according to a statement.
This is my new favorite launch footage. The team always has something new. pic.twitter.com/funfghAUVA
— Peter Beck (@Peter_J_Beck) May 8, 2023
The satellites are equally spaced in this orbit to maximize the frequency an area can be viewed from the same angle, which is known as the temporal resolution. The two satellites can travel over any given storm about once an hour compared to the six hours of other weather tracking satellites.
“This high revisit rate aims to help scientists better understand the processes that effect these high-impact storms, ultimately leading to improved modeling and prediction to help protect lives and livelihoods,” the company stated.
The four TROPICS satellites must be deployed within a 60-day period, the company stated. To that end, a second mission dubbed “Coming to a Storm Near You” is slated to launch in two weeks.
Sunday’s launch was Rocket Lab’s fourth of the year and 36th since the first in May 2017. Since then, the company has successfully delivered 161 satellites to orbit.