Skip to main content

Watch Rocket Lab launch storm-monitoring satellites

UPDATE: Rocket Lab has successfully launched and deployed the two satellites. You can watch the the early stages of the mission below:

Rocket Lab 'Rocket Like a Hurricane' Launch

Original article:

Rocket Lab is about to conduct the first of two launches for NASA’s TROPICS mission, short for Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation Structure and Storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats.

The initial flight, lifting off from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand, in a short while from now, will see the company’s Electron rocket heading skyward in its 36th launch since its maiden flight in 2017.

Rocket Lab will live stream the launch — check below for details on how you can watch it.

Once deployed, NASA’s TROPICS constellation will monitor the formation and evolution of tropical cyclones, including hurricanes. The satellites will enable meteorologists to offer communities rapid updates on a storm’s intensity. They will also bring an improved understanding of the processes that shape high-impact storms, and pave the way for the enhanced modeling and prediction of these extreme weather events.

The constellation is part of NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder Program and the four CubeSats that will be launched to an orbit of 342 miles (550 kilometers).

The timing of the two TROPICS launches means the satellites are set to reach orbit in time for the North American 2023 hurricane season, which begins next month.

Rocket Lab is developing a system for first-stage booster recovery that involves using a helicopter and a grappling hook to pluck the booster from the sky as it falls back to Earth shortly after launch. However, in the two TROPICS missions, Rocket Lab said it will not attempt to recover the first stage.

The second TROPICS launch will take place no earlier than May 16, with Rocket Lab expected to live stream that mission, too.

How to watch

Rocket Lab is planning to launch the first TROPICS mission using its Electron rocket at 9 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 7, which is 1 p.m. local time Monday, May 8.

The live stream will begin at about 8:20 p.m. ET (12:20 p.m. local time).

You can watch the mission get underway via the video player embedded at the top of this page, or by heading to Rocket Lab’s YouTube page, which will show the same footage.

There’s an outside chance that windy conditions could delay the launch, so be sure to check Rocket Lab’s Twitter account for the latest news.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Rocket Lab pushes its first U.S. rocket launch to 2023
Rocket Lab's Electron rocket on the launchpad.

Rocket Lab’s debut mission from U.S. soil has been pushed to next year after strong winds forced the team to call off the latest launch attempt earlier this week.

The mission had already been delayed several times due to administrative issues with the Federal Aviation Administration. Poor weather conditions also played a part. The latest delay was put down to “strong upper-level winds” at Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport within NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility about 100 miles southeast of Washington, D.C.

Read more
How to watch Rocket Lab’s first U.S. launch today
Rocket Lab's Electron rocket on the launchpad.

UPDATE: Strong winds have caused Rocket Lab to delay the launch. It's now out of the launch window for 2022 and so will make another attempt to begin the mission in early 2023.

Rocket Lab is about to perform its first-ever launch from U.S. soil in what will be a major step forward for the 16-year-old spaceflight company.

Read more
Watch this incredible video of a SpaceX rocket test
SpaceX testing an engine on its Starship spacecraft.

Rocket builders need to conduct multiple static fire tests of their boosters before they can send them into space for the first time.

That means securing the vehicle to the ground before firing up one or more of its engines for anywhere between seconds and several minutes.

Read more