Space enthusiasts on the east coast, keep an eye to the sky. NASA will be launching their Wallops Mission rocket sometime between now and 6:50pm EST. The Terrier-Improved Orion sounding rocket will release two lithium vapor trails colored red that will be visible to some in the Mid-Atlantic area. The mission is taking place from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility located in Virginia.
For those who can’t get outside, don’t want to brave the cold, or are stymied by clouds, NASA is showing the launch online via video on Ustream, which you can view here. This is the first of three missions NASA has for 2013 that involve the use of lithium vapor trails, which are being used to observe space events.
The project’s manager with NASA’s Sounding Rocket Program Office, Libby West, had this to say about the mission. “This launch is a technology test flight for two upcoming missions. We will be testing two different methods for creating the lithium vapor to determine which configuration is best for observing various science phenomena in space.”
The vapor trails will not happen at the same time, with the first one going off at an altitude of about 72 miles, and the second going off at an altitude of about 78 miles. NASA has stated that the vapor does not prose any risk to the public. In the event the project has to be postponed, the backup launch dates are January 30 to February 1.