We are in for a treat and the clearing sky is only half of the show. NASA will be launching a rocket between 7 and 9 PM tonight from Wallops Island, VA. This was initially intended for October 6, but the recent storm delayed preparations. Now they are ready and the weather should cooperate for a sky show that will result in creating high altitude colorful clouds. So get your high end cameras ready. If you can’t see it outside, I’ve provided a streaming video link at the bottom of this post.

Viewing area includes most of the Mid Atlantic

Oct7RocketLaunchMapAccording to NASA, Residents from Long Island, New York, 235 miles north of the launch site, to Morehead City, North Carolina, 232 miles south, 165 miles west in Charlottesville, Virginia — and everyone in between — could get a glimpse of the colorful evening launch. If you look at the map again, this includes York PA, Frederick, the western suburbs of Washington DC through Richmond in Virginia, and all of Maryland around and east of the Chesapeake Bay.

Where To Look

East! Face where the sun rises and it should be on the right side of dead ahead.


7 and 9 PM EDT is the launch window. That is a two hour span, and it could happen at any time in between.  Approximately 6 minutes after launch, the sounding rocket will deploy four sub-payloads containing mixtures of barium and strontium will be released.


Colorful Clouds

ColorfulCloudsVapor clouds will be created from a barium-strontium mixture produces a cloud with a mixture of blue-green and red color like this NASA image shown here.  The blue-green part is neutral, i.e. not charged.  Strontium is used to enhance the visibility of the neutral flow.

The amount of barium and strontium used in the test is much smaller than that used in a typical July 4 fireworks display and poses no hazard to the community.

The vapor tracer sub-payload deployment method being tested on this flight uses small rocket motors to eject the sub-payloads from the main payload.  The ejected sub-payloads will release the vapor at about 130 miles above the Earth. The main payload releases will occur at an altitude around 118 miles.

NASA will flight test a modified Black Brant sounding rocket motor, launch vehicle and spacecraft systems and sub-payload ejection technologies during a suborbital mission.

Sounding rockets, also called suborbital rockets, are valuable tools in qualifying technologies for flight. During this suborbital flight, NASA will test a modified Black Brant sounding rocket motor, launch vehicle and spacecraft systems and sub-payload ejection technologies.

Reminder: Last year on October 28, 2014 a failed Antares rocket launch exploded seconds after liftoff at this same facility . Lets hope for a better outcome this time.

Live Video Stream


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