[Viewing area for tomorrow night's launch; courtesy NASA]
NASA's Wallops Flight Facility is set to launch a sounding rocket Tuesday evening designed to test new technology, with the aim of making future space missions less expensive and less risky. The suborbital Black Brant IX sounding rocket is scheduled to take off between 7 and 9 p.m. and may be visible throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. If postponed, the launch could be rescheduled up through Oct. 12, according to NASA officials. Suborbital rockets, also called sounding rockets, are valuable tools in qualifying technologies for flight and providing the test drive that is needed.
Another task for the rocket is to release vapor clouds that incorporate a new ejection system. Such "glowing" clouds are used to study wind in space and the ionosphere. The new system could allow researchers to study wider areas during future launches, officials say. The vapor, which is to be released about 130 miles above the Earth, will contain a barium-strontium mixture that produces a cloud with a mix of blue-green and red colors.
Weather conditions at this time appear to be quite favorable for the planned Tuesday evening launch. Look near the horizon in the southern sky if located in Philly and New York metro regions or to the southeastern sky if in the DC metro area. Follow the launch here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-tv-wallops