FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) — A rocket is set to launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Saturday, May 8, 2021.
It is a mission to explore energy transport in space by using a NASA suborbital sounding rocket.
Weather permitting, the launch is scheduled for 8:02 p.m. EDT with a 40-minute launch window.
The backup launch days will run through May 16 and this launch will be visible for much of the eastern United States.
LAUNCH UPDATE �� The KiNET-X sounding rocket launching from Wallops is now scheduled for no earlier than Saturday, May 8, at 8:02 p.m. EDT. Camera stations are looking for clear skies preferably at both Wallops and Bermuda to view the vapor tracers.
— NASA Wallops (@NASA_Wallops) May 6, 2021
The launch will also be visible for portions of the Midwest.
According to NASA, the mission is called the KiNETic-scale energy and momentum transport eXperiment or KiNet-X.
It is designed to study how energy and momentum is transported between different regions of space that are magnetically connected.
KiNET-X will launch on a Black Brant XII sounding rocket, which can reach altitudes more than 200 miles above Earth's surface.
Two barium vapor clouds emitted from the rocket’s payload will generate a magnetic field perturbation, and electrons are likely to be energized.
According to NASA, the barium vapor, which is not harmful to the environment or public health, is not expected to form highly visible colorful clouds
The vapor will be released approximately 9 minutes and 30 seconds to around 10 minutes after launch at about 217-249 miles altitude over the Atlantic Ocean and 540-560 miles downrange from Wallops and just north of Bermuda.
After exposure to sunlight the vapor clouds quickly ionize and take on a violet color.
In general, the human eye does not see violet colors very well in darkness.
The KiNET-X clouds will therefore be more difficult for the casual observer to see than some of the previous vapor missions.
Live coverage of the mission will be available on the Wallops IBM video site beginning at 7:40 p.m. EDT Saturday.
Look to the eastern sky at the time of the launch and the rocket should be visible for 60 to 90 seconds.
The clouds will be increasing across northern Indiana and temperatures will be in the low to mid 50s.