Two NASA Weather Satellites Failed to Reach Orbit

A full review of what went wrong is in the works

NASA logo
NASA's logo.
NASA/JPL-Caltech, Public Domain

At a time when climate change has had a dramatic effect on the planet’s weather, any means by which we can learn more about conditions around the globe can have a substantial effect. Being able to better predict hurricanes or droughts can literally save lives — and getting improved data from satellites is an important element of that.

Unfortunately, sometimes satellites intended for a position in orbit don’t quite make it there. That was the case on Sunday, when a rocket that was intended to take two CubeSats into orbit didn’t get all the way there.

An article at helps explain just what happened. The Astra rocket that was carrying the two CubeSats — designed to monitor hurricanes, and designated NASA TROPICS-1 — experienced an issue in its second stage, causing the rocket and the satellites on board to be lost.

In a subsequent thread on Twitter, Astra provided more information on what had gone wrong. “We had a nominal first stage flight. The upper stage shut down early and we did not deliver the payloads to orbit,” the company stated. “We have shared our regrets with @NASA and the payload team. More information will be provided after we complete a full data review.”

Astra is scheduled to take four more CubeSats into orbit. As for whether or not the pair of satellites lost during this mission will be replaced, that remains to be seen.

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