TROPICS Flight 1

Launch Time
Sun Jun 12, 2022 17:43 UTC

Second stage engine suffered a premature cutoff, leaving the payloads in a suborbital trajectory ~1km/s short of the intended orbit.

Engine shutdown was caused by combustion chamber burn-through caused by engine injector blockage by gaseous fuel & thermal barrier coating erosion, not fully accounted for during engine design.


Rocket 3
Status: Retired
Price: $2.5 million
Liftoff Thrust: 133 kN
Payload to LEO: 204 kg
Payload to GTO: 0 kg
Stages: 2
Strap-ons: 0
Rocket Height: 11.6 m

Mission Details

TROPICS Flight 1

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 206 GHz for cloud ice measurements.

Payloads: 2
Total Mass: 19.0 kg
Low Earth Orbit


SLC-46, Cape Canaveral SFS, Florida, USA



64th orbital launch attempt

Rocket 3

7th mission
3rd mission of 2022
5th failed mission