March 27, 2012

NASA confirms launch date for five rocket mission from Virginia

NASA managers have given a “go” for a countdown leading to the launch of five suborbital sounding rockets early in the morning March 27 on a science mission that will briefly create a milky white cloud that may be visible along a large portion of the U.S. east coast.

The launch window for the mission will be between 2 and 5 a.m., March 27. The countdown will begin at 9 p.m., March 26. Clear skies are predicted for the March 27 launch. However, ground level winds may exceed allowable limits for the flights to occur.

The Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment mission will gather information needed to better understand the process responsible for the high-altitude jet stream located 60 to 65 miles above the surface of the Earth.

As part the mission, the sounding rocket launch team at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va., will launch five rockets 80 seconds apart, each of which will release a chemical tracer to create clouds allowing scientists and the public to “see” the winds in space.

A significant criteria for launch to proceed will be clear skies not only at Wallops but also at sites in New Jersey and North Carolina. The temporary clouds may be visible for up to 20 minutes by residents from South Carolina to southern New Hampshire and Vermont.

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