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COSMIC STRINGS ALERT: Rocket Launch visible from Virginia TONIGHT (maybe!)

Hello there folks!

So NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility has been trying to launch a rocket carrying the KiNet-X mission into the atmosphere since Friday.  Weather has been less than cooperative, but they do plan to try again tonight!  The launch is scheduled for 8:04pm this evening, with a launch window of 40 minutes.

A Black Brant XII sounding rocket being launched. This type of rocket will be used to carry the KiNet-X mission into the upper atmosphere. Credit: NASA

The KiNet-X mission is designed to study how energy and momentum is transported in space between magnetically connected areas.  To do this, it will release barium vapor and watch how it interacts with the magnetic field of the Earth.  Don’t worry – the barium vapor is harmless and poses no threat to humans or wildlife.

Both the rocket launch and the barium vapor itself may be visible to watchers on the ground.  You’ll want to look towards the east at around 8pm, as the launch will send the rocket over the Atlantic Ocean.  About 9 to 10 minutes into the flight, the barium vapor will release, and may be visible for as long as 30 seconds.  It will initially appear greenish, changing to violet as the vapor ionizes.

Weather is looking…maybe-ish.  It will all depend on how quickly the rain moves out, and how much wind sticks around afterward, especially in the upper levels of the atmosphere.  You can keep up with the prospects for launch and even watch the action live on the Wallops IBM video site.

Here’s hoping for a successful launch tonight!

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