WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (WAVY) – Rocket Lab USA announced Monday that they will move their two CubeSat launches from Virginia to New Zealand.
The two missions were originally scheduled to lift-off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, but will now take place at Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand. This change is help satellites reach orbit in time for the North American 2023 hurricane season.
According to a press release, the TROPICS constellation (Time-Resolved Observation of Precipitation Structure and Storm Intensity with a Constellation of Small Sats) will monitor the formation and evolution of tropical cyclones and provide update on storm intensity.
The constellation consists of four CubeSats that are required to launch at a specific orbit and need to deploy into their operational orbit within 60-day period.
“The need for improved climate and weather data from space is acute and growing. Hurricanes and tropical storms have a devastating effect on lives and livelihoods, so we’re immensely proud to be entrusted by NASA to launch the TROPICS missions which will enable scientists and researchers to accurately predict storm strength and give people time to evacuate and make plans,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO, Peter Beck. “With the 2023 hurricane season fast approaching, time is of the essence for these missions. Because we operate three launch pads across two countries, we can constantly assess the launch manifest and adapt launch schedules and locations based on customer and mission requirements.”
The first launch, named ” Rocket Like a Hurricane” is expected to launch as soon as May 1 NZST (Apr. 30 EDT). The second launch, named “Coming to a Storm Near You” is expected to take place around May 16 NZST (May 15 EDT).