Rocket Launch Will Be Visible In MD Carrying Student Experiments

MARYLAND – A rocket is set to launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Friday between 5:30 am and 8:30 am and should be visible on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The rocket will carry student experiments from across the United States.

Unlike previous launches, the rocket will likely be too small for residents to see the exhaust clouds north or south of the Delmarva Peninsula. The rocket should be visible to residents in parts of southern and eastern Maryland and the Northern Neck of Virginia, NASA said.

The mission is called RockOn / RockSat-C, with the Terrier-Improved Orion sounding rocket blasting off.

The 36-foot long two-stage rocket will carry 39 experiments measuring acceleration, humidity, pressure, temperature and radiation counts from the RockOn program, seven experiments in the RockSat-C program and about 80 small cubes with experiments developed by middle school and high school students as part of the Cubes in Space program, NASA said.

“This will be the fourteenth year that the NASA Sounding Rocket Program has provided a suborbital rocket flight for undergraduate university students to fly their experiments into space,” Giovanni Rosanova, chief of the NASA Sounding Rockets Program Office at Wallops, said in a statement.

“This unique project provides an opportunity for students to obtain hands-on experience in developing space-flight experiments, which is vital in developing future scientists and engineers,” Rosanova said.

The rocket will likely get about 75 miles off the ground before it falls back down to earth and into the Atlantic Ocean. At that point, NASA scientists will retrieve the student projects and data measuring devices.

NASA will have a livestream on its YouTube. The live stream will begin 20 minutes before the scheduled launch time. Live coverage could begin as early as 5:10 am, depending on weather conditions.

The Wallops Visitor Center and viewing area will not be open for this launch. The public can also watch the rocket launch from Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.

Weather for those watching in southern and eastern Maryland should offer great viewing conditions. The National Weather Service forecast for the Ocean City area calls for partly cloudy skies Thursday night with a low around 63 and a northeast wind of 7 to 13 mph. On Friday morning, expect mostly sunny skies with a north wind of 7 to 10 mph.

Patch Editor Mark Hand contributed to this story.

(NASA / Wallops)

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