Astra TROPICS-1 fails to reach orbit

June 12 at 1:43 pm E.T. from SLC-46 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station

For their third launch of the year Astra has failed to reach orbit. The TROPICS 1 mission had a nominal flight with its first stage, but the upper stage shut down early and the company did not deliver the payloads to orbit. With the lift off window beginning at noon on the space coast several delays continued to push the launch further into the afternoon. NASA’s LSP (Launch Services Program), who managed the mission continues to work with emerging launch providers like Astra to deliver low cost science missions into orbit. Small satellites and Class D payloads tolerate relatively high risks and are an ideal platform for technical and architecture innovation which contribute to NASA’s science research and technology development.


the TROPICS-1 mission launched two TROPICS 3U Cubesats which where intended for a 550 km LEO (Low Earth Orbit) for NASA. It marked the second launch for the company from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s SLC-46 and also unfortunately marks their second failure to reach orbit from there as well since the ELaNa 41 mission did not reach orbit earlier this year.

TROPICS or Time Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a constellation of Smallsats and were intended to gather microwave measurements of Earth’s troposphere to study its thermodynamics and the precipitation structure of storm systems. Once the constellation is complete and in place in three different planes of the tropics they will observe storm systems at the mesoscale and synoptic scale for the entire cycle of the storms. This constellation will also offer a combination of horizontal and temporal resolution for observing and measuring environmental and inner core conditions of tropical cyclones, nearly across the globe. Once finalized the constellation will consist of six identical 3U Cubesats that will launch on future missions.