NASA was set to launch a rocket from the Wallops Island facility in Virginia yesterday, Saturday, May 15. However, NASA was forced to scrub that launch due to cloudy skies over Bermuda. The cancellation of the launch on Saturday marks about a week straight that NASA has been forced to cancel the launch due to weather and a launch support issue.
The rocket NASA wants to launch is called KiNET-X, and NASA has said that the next launch opportunity happens no earlier than 8:04 PM Sunday, May 16. NASA also noted that Sunday would be the last launch opportunity for the mission. KiNET-X is a different type of mission than NASA usually conducts because the rocket will launch vapor tracers high in the atmosphere designed to study winds.
NASA says that scientists use vapor tracers primarily to study atmospheric winds in the upper atmosphere and ionosphere. When those tracers are released after launch, they make it possible to observe those winds directly. NASA says the vapor is released harmlessly at an altitude of 217 to 249 miles above the planet’s surface.
Another interesting tidbit about the mission is that the vapor tracers used in the rocket are the same type that makes fireworks colorful. The agency notes that all of the materials used in the vapor tracers are harmless to humans. Undoubtedly, there will be lots of people on the ground looking forward to this particular mission because of the colorful vapor tracers.
NASA says people in Bermuda will have the best view to see the colorful tracers, but central Florida will also have the opportunity to see the tracers depending on the weather. If the rocket can launch, onlookers should look low on the horizon, to the East between 90 seconds and two minutes after it launches. The tracers could be seen from Maine to Central Florida and as far inland as the Mississippi River.