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NASA Postpones Wallops Rocket Launch To Saturday Night

CBS Boston logoCBS Boston 5/6/2021 Syndicated Local – CBS Boston

[MAY 6 UPDATE] — NASA is postponing the launch of the KiNET-X sounding rocket from its Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia due to weather. The launch was originally scheduled for Friday evening, but it has been pushed back to no earlier than Saturday, May 8 at 8:02 p.m.

The launch would be visible to much of the East Coast with clear skies. But unfortunately for New England, the forecast for Saturday night calls for lots of clouds.

BOSTON (CBS) — Hey what’s that thing in the sky? A bird, a plane? Nope that’s a rocket!

It’s not every day you have the chance to see a NASA rocket hurtling over the Atlantic, but this Friday evening might just be your shot!

NASA is set to launch a “Black Brant XII sounding rocket” from their Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia this Friday at 7:58 p.m. If skies are clear, the launch should be visible to folks up and down the eastern seaboard.

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(WBZ-TV graphic)

Let’s back up a bit. . . what exactly is this rocket launch all about? Let’s get geeky for just a minute:

The mission is called KiNet-X and the goal is to study how energy and momentum is transported between regions of space that are connected magnetically. . . simple stuff, you know. HA!

This study will help scientists better understand things like Auroras and how they are formed and their movement from place to place.

To study this, the rocket will release a barium vapor about 9-10 minutes into the flight just north of Bermuda at an altitude of over 200 miles. Don’t worry, this vapor is not harmful to the environment or the public, in fact, it isn’t even likely to be visible to the human eye. NASA will be studying this vapor release however with all kinds of diagnostic instrumentation onboard the rocket. NASA calls this “a very simple experiment. . . that will allow us to quantify the flow of energy to electrons”. Typical day at the office.

map © Provided by CBS Boston

(WBZ-TV graphic)

Anyhow, if you are hoping to catch a glimpse of the rocket on Friday evening, it should be visible to our southeast between 30-60 seconds after launch (assuming the launch goes off on time at 7:58 p.m). Clouds could be a factor here though with a band of rain likely extending from the Mid-Atlantic to our west up the Hudson river valley. If the weather interrupts and cancels the launch itself (possible), there are several more launch windows running through May 16th. We will keep you updated!

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