UPDATE: NASA to launch rocket from Wallops Island Saturday night for research mission

Virginia News

FILE – Northup Grumman’s Antares rocket lifts off the launch pad at NASA’s Wallops Island flight facility in Wallops Island, Va., Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. The rocket is delivering cargo to the International Space Station. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

UPDATE: This rocket launch has been rescheduled to Saturday, May 8. The mission is scheduled for no earlier than 8:02 p.m. EDT with a 40-minute launch window.

Backup launch days run through May 16.


ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR/WPRI) — NASA is set to launch a rocket from its Wallops Island facility in Virginia just before 8 p.m. on Friday, May 7.

The launch is scheduled for 7:58 p.m. with a 40-minute launch window. NASA Black Brant XII will take off on a mission to research how energy and momentum are transported in space.

The mission is known as the “KiNETic-scale energy and momentum transport eXperiment,” or KiNet-X.

This map shows when the rocket may be visible after launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. Two vapor clouds will form north of Bermuda about 9 minutes and 30 seconds after launch as part of the mission and may also be visible from eastern United States and Bermuda.
Credits: NASA/Christian Billie

This experiment will start with the release of a cloud of vapor into the atmosphere. The vapor is not harmful to the environment or public health, according to NASA.

The vapor will be released between nine-and-a-half and ten minutes after launch, which equates to roughly 217 to 249 miles altitude over the Atlantic Ocean and 540 to 560 miles downrange from the launch site and just north of the island of Bermuda.

After the vapor is exposed to sunlight, the vapor clouds will ionize quickly and change color to a shade of violet. The clouds will be a mixture of green and violet. However, this phase will only last for about 30 seconds.

The human eye will not be able to see these colors very well, especially in the dark.

You may be able to see the rocket launch Friday evening. The forecast model below suggests skies will be clearing in Southwest and Central Virginia Friday evening before the rocket launch.

However, the forecast model shows rain approaching the Wallops Flight Facility, which is located along the Eastern Shore. If this forecast holds, chances are the rocket launch may be delayed.

NASA has dates set through May 16 in the event of a postponement.

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