NASA, Rocket Lab to Launch Climate-Monitoring SatellitesNASA, Rocket Lab to Launch Climate-Monitoring Satellites
The two small-scale satellites aim to provide greater insight into ice loss and sea level rise
August 16, 2023
NASA has announced plans to launch two satellites for climate monitoring in collaboration with Rocket Lab.
The satellites will contribute toward the space agency’s climate change-focused mission, Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-InfraRed Experiment (PREFIRE).
The PREFIRE project was established to determine how much of the Earth’s heat is lost to space and how this impacts rising sea levels and ice loss. Data collected by the satellites will focus on the Arctic and Antarctica.
Under the project, the two small satellites will be deployed to a 525km circular orbit, with both set for launch next May. Rocket Lab will use its Electron rocket to carry the satellites into polar orbits, where they’ll collect data for at least 10 months.
The deployment marks the seventh and eighth missions Rocket Lab has launched for NASA since 2018.
Data from PREFIRE is expected to provide a better understanding of sea ice loss, ice sheet melt and sea level rise, and inform future climate models.
“Missions like these are core to the whole reason why Rocket Lab was founded in the first place – to open up access to space to improve life on Earth – and climate change is a hugely urgent cause for us all,” said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab CEO. “It’s a privilege to be able to support this important mission and an honor to be a continued trusted launch provider for small satellite missions with big impact.”
Rocket Lab was selected for the PREFIRE mission through NASA’s Venture-class acquisition of dedicated and rideshare program, a $300 million, five-year contracting vehicle for placing NASA’s science and technology payloads on U.S. commercial launchers.
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