NASA successfully launches rocket meant to study energy transport in space
The rocket blasted off at 8:36 p.m. Sunday following a series of scrubbed launch attempts
NASA has successfully launched a Black Brant XII sounding rocket from its Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Sunday.
The launch window opened at 8:04 p.m. and the rocket blasted off at 8:36 p.m.
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The rocket launched as part of NASA's KiNet-X mission, which is designed to study how energy and momentum are transported between different regions of space that are magnetically connected.
At around 10 minutes into the launch, the Black Brant XII released a barium vapor at an altitude of about 217-249 miles over the Atlantic Ocean and 540-560 miles downrange from Wallops and just north of Bermuda.
The vapor, which is not harmful to the environment, formed two green-violet clouds that were visible across the East Coast for about 30 seconds. According to NASA, the human eye does not see violet colors very well in darkness, making the KiNET-X clouds more difficult to see for the casual observer than previous vapor missions launched from Wallops.
The mission was previously set for May 8 but had been repeatedly postponed due to unfavorable weather conditions. NASA also had to inspect the launcher vehicle and replace the rocket's third stage motor.
NASA warned earlier Sunday that the mission would be the last attempt for its launch timeframe.
"The moon will begin to be too high above the horizon at sunset, so it will be too bright to be able to see vapor tracers in the sky," NASA Wallops tweeted. "If we don't launch, we will evaluate another launch time for later in the year."
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NASA called the launch a "beautiful show," adding that a better story couldn't be written.
"Like a season finale, although it wasn't a cliff hanger," NASA's commentator noted. "This time it was a successful ending."