Author Topic: CANCELLED : Astra R3.3 - LV0011 - TROPICS Flight 2 - CCSFS SLC-46  (Read 6643 times)

Offline Conexion Espacial

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This topic is for updates and discussion of this mission.

Astra Rocket 3.3 - LV0011 - TROPICS Flight 2
Launch Date and time: TBD 2022
Payloads: Two TROPICS satellites

Quote
A constellation of identical 3U CubeSats provide sounding (left CubeSat has a temperature profile of a simulated Tropical Cyclone (TC) from a numerical weather prediction (NWP) model) and 12-channel radiometric imagery (center CubeSat has simulated radiances from NWP model and radiative transfer model and the near right CubeSat has a single-channel radiance image of a TC) with a median revisit rate approaching 60 minutes to meet state-of-the-art performance.

The Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) mission will provide rapid-refresh microwave measurements over the tropics that can be used to observe the thermodynamics of the troposphere and precipitation structure for storm systems at the mesoscale and synoptic scale over the entire storm lifecycle. TROPICS comprises a constellation of CubeSats in three low-Earth orbital planes. Each CubeSat will host a high-performance radiometer scanning across the satellite track at 30 RPM to provide temperature profiles using seven channels near the 118.75 GHz oxygen absorption line, water vapor profiles using 3 channels near the 183 GHz water vapor absorption line, imagery in a single channel near 90 GHz for precipitation measurements, and a single channel at 205 GHz for cloud ice measurements.

More Information: https://tropics.ll.mit.edu/CMS/tropics/Mission-Overview
« Last Edit: 08/04/2022 10:32 pm by zubenelgenubi »
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Offline Conexion Espacial

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We know that the investigation of LV0010 is ongoing, but the satellite images show activity in SLC-46, maybe LV0011 is already on the platform.
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Offline Conexion Espacial

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The latest aerial images from NASASpacefligt indicate that there is nothing at SLC-46.
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Offline Zed_Noir

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The latest aerial images from NASASpacefligt indicate that there is nothing at SLC-46.
However Astra can probably set up in 24 hours by staging from somewhere close by in Florida. IIRC everything for the launch was in 3 or 4 semi trailers. The issue that might hold up the launch set up process might be the readiness of the payload.
« Last Edit: 07/14/2022 11:11 pm by zubenelgenubi »

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The latest aerial images from NASASpacefligt indicate that there is nothing at SLC-46.
Has there been any pad activity after the June 12 launch failure?  (Other than removal of equipment to arrive at the clean pad seen in the posted image.)

However Astra can probably set up in 24 hours by staging from somewhere close by in Florida. IIRC everything for the launch was in 3 or 4 semi trailers.
True.  The semi trailers could be on-base.

The issue that might hold up the launch set up process might be the readiness of the payload.
Possible, but we have seen no indication of such.  Otherwise, the 6 satellites appear to have been ready for the three quick succession launches.

Astra is still determining why the previous launch failed?  Or now remediating the issues found?  We don't know when in the return to flight process that they stand.
« Last Edit: 07/21/2022 12:55 am by zubenelgenubi »
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Online zubenelgenubi

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https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1554464843993956352
Quote from: Jeff Foust
At this morning’s Earth Science Advisory Cmte meeting, NASA’s Karen St. Germain says the agency is working on a plan for launching the four remaining TROPICS cubesats after the first two were lost on an Astra launch in June. “Still excited” about science 4 TROPICS sats can do. [August 2]
Rocket return-to-flight?
Or something else?
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Online TrevorMonty

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1554464843993956352
Quote from: Jeff Foust
At this morning’s Earth Science Advisory Cmte meeting, NASA’s Karen St. Germain says the agency is working on a plan for launching the four remaining TROPICS cubesats after the first two were lost on an Astra launch in June. “Still excited” about science 4 TROPICS sats can do. [August 2]
Rocket return-to-flight?
Or something else?
Losing 2 is not unexpected on new LV but can they afford to lose anymore. Maybe case of using more reliable LV for remaining 4.
« Last Edit: 08/04/2022 07:30 am by zubenelgenubi »

Offline ZachS09

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https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1554464843993956352
Quote from: Jeff Foust
At this morning’s Earth Science Advisory Cmte meeting, NASA’s Karen St. Germain says the agency is working on a plan for launching the four remaining TROPICS cubesats after the first two were lost on an Astra launch in June. “Still excited” about science 4 TROPICS sats can do. [August 2]
Rocket return-to-flight?
Or something else?
Losing 2 is not unexpected on new LV but can they afford to lose anymore. Maybe case of using more reliable LV for remaining 4.


Electron, maybe? Or LauncherOne?
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Online Celeste_El

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Kemp just confirmed in their Q2 call that Tropics is being moved to Launch System 2.0 (Rocket 4) and there will no additional commercial launches this year.

Online zubenelgenubi

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Cross-posts

No more Rocket 3.0 launches!

Astra Earnings Statement - https://investor.astra.com/news-releases/news-release-details/astra-announces-second-quarter-2022-financial-results
[August 4]
Quote from: Astra
Astra announces that after two of its four Rocket 3.3 flights were successful, the Company will transition to the next version of its launch system and is working with customers to re-manifest all payloads onto the new launch system, designed for higher capacity, reliability, and production rate.

Wow
Quote from: Michael Sheetz tweet
Astra's presentation for the Q2 conference call says that the TROPICS-1 mission failure investigation is still ongoing. $ASTR [August 4]

Quote from: Michael Sheetz tweet
$ASTR CEO Chris Kemp: "We will not have any additional flights in 2022." [August 4]

Quote from: Eric Berger tweet
Astra CEO Chris Kemp said it's not certain that the company will resume commercial launches in 2023. It will depend on how development and testing goes with the next generation launch system [Rocket 4.0]. May be later. [August 4]
« Last Edit: 08/04/2022 10:40 pm by zubenelgenubi »
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Offline Zed_Noir

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https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1554464843993956352
Quote from: Jeff Foust
At this morning’s Earth Science Advisory Cmte meeting, NASA’s Karen St. Germain says the agency is working on a plan for launching the four remaining TROPICS cubesats after the first two were lost on an Astra launch in June. “Still excited” about science 4 TROPICS sats can do. [August 2]
Rocket return-to-flight?
Or something else?
Losing 2 is not unexpected on new LV but can they afford to lose anymore. Maybe case of using more reliable LV for remaining 4.


Electron, maybe? Or LauncherOne?
Just put the remaining 4 TROPICS cubesats on a Falcon 9 along with whatever rideshare that can be mustered to go along. Losing one more TROPICS will drastically reduce the science that can done, since nominally there should be a minimum of 4 TROPICS spacecrafts gathering data. NASA has let Astra Space rolled the dice, who didn't make the saving throw. :(

Offline ZachS09

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https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1554464843993956352
Quote from: Jeff Foust
At this morning’s Earth Science Advisory Cmte meeting, NASA’s Karen St. Germain says the agency is working on a plan for launching the four remaining TROPICS cubesats after the first two were lost on an Astra launch in June. “Still excited” about science 4 TROPICS sats can do. [August 2]
Rocket return-to-flight?
Or something else?
Losing 2 is not unexpected on new LV but can they afford to lose anymore. Maybe case of using more reliable LV for remaining 4.


Electron, maybe? Or LauncherOne?
Just put the remaining 4 TROPICS cubesats on a Falcon 9 along with whatever rideshare that can be mustered to go along. Losing one more TROPICS will drastically reduce the science that can done, since nominally there should be a minimum of 4 TROPICS spacecrafts gathering data. NASA has let Astra Space rolled the dice, who didn't make the saving throw. :(

I mentioned that possibility a while ago, and someone said that since TROPICS is not going to a sun-synchronous orbit (TROPICS operates in a 30-degree orbit), a Transporter rideshare is unlikely.
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Online niwax

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https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1554464843993956352
Quote from: Jeff Foust
At this morning’s Earth Science Advisory Cmte meeting, NASA’s Karen St. Germain says the agency is working on a plan for launching the four remaining TROPICS cubesats after the first two were lost on an Astra launch in June. “Still excited” about science 4 TROPICS sats can do. [August 2]
Rocket return-to-flight?
Or something else?
Losing 2 is not unexpected on new LV but can they afford to lose anymore. Maybe case of using more reliable LV for remaining 4.


Electron, maybe? Or LauncherOne?
Just put the remaining 4 TROPICS cubesats on a Falcon 9 along with whatever rideshare that can be mustered to go along. Losing one more TROPICS will drastically reduce the science that can done, since nominally there should be a minimum of 4 TROPICS spacecrafts gathering data. NASA has let Astra Space rolled the dice, who didn't make the saving throw. :(

I mentioned that possibility a while ago, and someone said that since TROPICS is not going to a sun-synchronous orbit (TROPICS operates in a 30-degree orbit), a Transporter rideshare is unlikely.

It really depends on what they are more likely to budge on, orbit or money. They got the three Astra launches at $2.5 million each, that is not going to happen anywhere else. The other bidders were Starship (est. $5 million/launch) and Electron (est. $7.5 million/launch). If they don't want to drastically increase their budget, almost doubling it for Electron, another option would be to go to ~52° on a Starlink launch or ride along to ISS, but none of those options are great.
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Offline ZachS09

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What are the benefits and disadvantages of TROPICS operating in a 53-degree orbit rather than the original 30-degree orbit?
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Offline Jim

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What are the benefits and disadvantages of TROPICS operating in a 53-degree orbit rather than the original 30-degree orbit?

Less coverage of the tropics

Offline ZachS09

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What are the benefits and disadvantages of TROPICS operating in a 53-degree orbit rather than the original 30-degree orbit?

Less coverage of the tropics.

That's my point. So, I can't fathom a SpaceX rideshare unless there's a major payload also going to a 30-degree orbit.
« Last Edit: 08/06/2022 02:03 pm by ZachS09 »
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They could rideshare with most GTO launches that use a parking orbit (i think all Falcon 9 missions didn’t do direct insertion so far). Would need a transfer vehicle though, or a light GEO satellite. But minimum inclination out of the cape is already 28.5 degrees.

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Does this tweet mean that the mission is not cancelled and that it just moves to Rocket 4.0?

"NASA is an unreal customer. Told Astra it's willing to wait for "launch system 2.0" for the Tropics mission."

https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1555293237652475904
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Offline trimeta

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Does this tweet mean that the mission is not cancelled and that it just moves to Rocket 4.0?

"NASA is an unreal customer. Told Astra it's willing to wait for "launch system 2.0" for the Tropics mission."

Is it even the same mission at that point? I figure that once (if) that's announced, a new thread would be created (possibly linking to this one).

Online TrevorMonty

Does this tweet mean that the mission is not cancelled and that it just moves to Rocket 4.0?

"NASA is an unreal customer. Told Astra it's willing to wait for "launch system 2.0" for the Tropics mission."

https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1555293237652475904
Assume at same price as Rocket 3.0 in which case Astra will be losing money.
« Last Edit: 08/08/2022 09:49 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline lrk

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Is it possible that the remaining satellites could fly on a single launch of Rocket 4.0?

Offline AmigaClone

Is it possible that the remaining satellites could fly on a single launch of Rocket 4.0?

Possible, yes. I can see NASA desiring to see a couple of consecutive successful flights before launching the remaining four Tropics satellites.

Granted, that might depend on how soon Astra can develop their Rocket 4.0 and get it operational.

Online TrevorMonty

Is it possible that the remaining satellites could fly on a single launch of Rocket 4.0?
Depends if they are all going into same orbit.
« Last Edit: 08/08/2022 09:50 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1556678106030567425

Quote
At a NASA town hall at the #Smallsat conference this morning, the agency says it’s “still looking for a ride” for the four remaining TROPICS cubesats that were to launch on Astra’s Rocket 3.3. Astra said last week it’s in discussions with NASA, but Rocket 4 would be a poor fit.

Offline jstrotha0975

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What is the mass of the TROPICS satellites?

Offline Bean Kenobi

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What is the mass of the TROPICS satellites?

3U cubesat, 5,3 kg.

Offline su27k

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NASA looking for new launch of remaining TROPICS cubesats

Quote from: SpaceNews
Agency sources said Astra’s announcement that the company was discontinuing the Rocket 3.3 took them by surprise. Switching vehicles poses cost and schedule challenges that NASA is still studying.

However, even before the announcement, NASA was looking into alternative options while awaiting the outcome of the investigation into the June launch failure.

Offline Sam Ho

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Cross-post: the remaining TROPICS launch(es) will be competed under VADR:
https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-maintains-contractual-relationship-with-astra-presses-forward-with-tropics-mission

Quote
Sep 22, 2022

NASA Maintains Contractual Relationship with Astra, Presses Forward with TROPICS Mission

Recognizing the urgent science needs, NASA is adjusting its launch services plan to complete the timely launch of a CubeSat constellation designed to improve understanding of tropical cyclones.

The agency’s Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) mission launch service now will be competed under the agency’s Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare (VADR) IDIQ contract targeting the 2023 hurricane season.

NASA and Astra also have agreed to modify its existing launch services contract, originally planned for the agency’s TROPICS constellation, for the launch of comparable scientific payloads on Astra’s Rocket 4.0 in the future.

NASA selected commercial partner Astra in 2021 to provide launch services for TROPICS across three launches using the company’s Rocket 3.3 launch vehicle. On June 12, 2022, after a nominal first-stage flight, the upper stage of Astra’s Rocket 3.3 shut down early and failed to deliver the first two TROPICS CubeSats to orbit. NASA currently is participating in the launch investigation, led by Astra and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Following the first TROPICS launch attempt, Astra and NASA engaged in discussions regarding the remaining launch attempts. Astra then notified NASA of its intent to discontinue its Rocket 3.3 and indicated the company would potentially not resume launches prior to the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season. The VADR contract allows the 13 companies selected this year to compete for the rebid of the TROPICS launch services, giving the agency and external stakeholders the ability to use TROPICS data sooner.

TROPICS is an Earth venture mission – science-driven, competitively selected, low-cost missions that provide opportunity for investment in innovative Earth science to enhance our capability to better understand the current state of the Earth system and to enable continual improvement in the prediction of future changes. NASA is committed to helping grow the U.S. commercial launch market while enabling the agency’s science missions. The VADR contract allows NASA to nurture the emerging commercial market by awarding launch providers more risk-tolerant payloads such as TROPICS.

Last Updated: Sep 28, 2022
Editor: James Cawley

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