NASA has postponed until June 11 the launch of a sounding rocket which will release blue-green and red artificial clouds. The rocket’s scheduled launch for Sunday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility was scrubbed due to clouds impacting the ability to test the new ampoule ejection system designed to support studies of the ionosphere and aurora. “While the launch window runs through June 6, forecast weather is not conducive for supporting the test mission through the remainder of the window. The launch is now scheduled for not earlier than June 11, pending range availability,” NASA said in a statement.
The rocket will eject 10 canisters about the size of a soft drink can between 10 to 20 km from the rocket’s main payload, and these containers will release the vapour between 4 and 5.5 minutes after launch. These clouds or vapour tracers allow scientists on the ground to visually track particle motions in space. The development of the multi-canister or ampule ejection system will allow scientists to gather information over a much larger area than previously allowed when deploying the vapour just from the main payload.
Ground cameras will be stationed at Wallops and in Duck, North Carolina, to view the vapour tracers. Clear skies are required at one of the two ground stations for this test. The June 4 attempt was the fourth for this mission. The first two attempts were scrubbed due to winds and clouds. The third attempt was scrubbed due to boats in the launch hazard area.