ORLANDO, Fla. – It finally happened.
After a week of scrubbed launches due to weather, NASA finally was able to launch its KiNET-X sounding rocket from its Wallops Island facility in Virginia on Sunday.
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The launch occurred just in time, with the rocket going into the air at roughly 8:45 p.m., less than 10 minutes before its window to launch was set to expire.
What makes this launch so different from the ones Central Floridians are accustom to on the Space Coast is that this rocket will release vapor tracers high up in the atmosphere to study winds.
If it hadn’t gone off on Sunday, the launch would have had to have been delayed until later this year due to the difficulty of seeing the vapors because of the moon.
But why? 🤔— NASA Wallops (@NASA_Wallops) May 7, 2021
Scientist use vapor tracers primarily to study atmospheric winds in upper atmosphere and ionosphere. When released after launch, the tracers make it possible to directly observe the winds. The vapors release harmlessly between 217-249 miles above the Earth. pic.twitter.com/6i7b9aAW6f
The materials that make up the vapor tracers are the same ones that make fireworks colorful. All of those materials are harmless to us.
Tonight is the last attempt for this launch time frame. 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. If we don't launch, we will evaluate another launch time for later in the year.— NASA Wallops (@NASA_Wallops) May 16, 2021
Look to the east low on the horizon 90 seconds to two minutes after the rocket launches from Wallops Island, Virginia. The tracers may be seen from Maine all the way to Central Florida and as far inland as the Mississippi River.
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