Watch Live Saturday: NASA to Launch Artificial Cloud Spawning Rocket

Updated June 20, 7:50 p.m. ET:  NASA will try to launch its artificial cloud-spawning rocket Saturday, June 24, between 9:07 p.m. EDT and 9:22 p.m. EDT (0107-0122 GMT), after a series of delays due to weather. You can watch it here beginning at 8:30 p.m. EDT (0030 GMT).  NASA will provide an update on the next launch attempt here

The rocket will launch to test a canister deployment system designed to eject ampoules containing gas that can create glowing artificial clouds in the night sky. Clear weather is vital for mission scientists in order to record the cloud deployment using ground-based cameras at the launch site – NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia, and in Duck, North Carolina.

If you live near the Wallops Island area in Virginia and would like to watch the sounding rocket launch in person, NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility Visitors Center will open to the public at 8 p.m. EDT. Because the launch is weather dependent, local spectactors and online viewers can recieve the latest updates from NASA via the Wallops center Facebook  and Twitter  sites.

Editor’s note: If you capture an amazing image of the sounding rocket launch or the colorful artificial clouds that you would like to share with and its news partners for a story or photo gallery, send photos and comments to:

Artificial clouds should be visible shortly after 9 p.m. EDT on June 11 from New York to North Carolina if a NASA sounding rocket launches on time from the agency's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Artificial clouds should be visible shortly after 9 p.m. EDT on June 11 from New York to North Carolina if a NASA sounding rocket launches on time from the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Credit: NASA

From NASA :

“The window for a NASA Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket launch to test a new ampoule ejection system designed to support studies of the ionosphere and aurora opens June 11 and runs through June 18. Lift-off for a June 11 launch is scheduled between 9:04 and 9:19 p.m. EDT.
“NASA has two ground stations — at Wallops and Duck, N.C. — to view blue-green and red artificial clouds that will be produced as part of the test. Clear skies are required at one of the two ground stations for this test.
“The multi-canister ampoule ejection system flying on this mission will allow scientists to gather information over a much larger area than previously able. Canisters will deploy between 4 and 5.5 minutes after launch releasing blue-green and red vapor to form artificial clouds. These clouds, or vapor tracers, allow scientists on the ground to visually track particle motions in space.
“The clouds may be visible along the mid-Atlantic coastline from New York to North Carolina.
“The NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will open at 8 p.m. on launch day for viewing the flight.
“Live coverage of the mission is scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m. on the Wallops Ustream site. Launch updates also are available via the Wallops Facebook and Twitter sites.”

On Wednesday, June 21 – the summer solstice – NASA will hold two major press conferences to provide an overview of the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, which will be visible to potentially millions of people as the moon’s shadow crosses the continental United States from Oregon to South Carolina. You can watch the briefings here, courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT).

The eclipse action begins at 1 p.m. EDT with a logistics presentation from NASA, followed by a 2:30 p.m. EDT (1830 GMT) conference ont the science begind the solar eclipse. 

Logistics briefing speakers:

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington

Vanessa Griffin, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Satellite and Product Operations in Suitland, Maryland

Brian Carlstrom, deputy associate director of Natural Resource Stewardship and Science at the National Park Service in Washington

Martin Knopp, associate administrator of the Office of Operations in the Federal Highway Administration at the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington

Science briefing speakers:

  • Thomas Zurbuchen
  • Angela Des Jardins, principal investigator of the Eclipse Ballooning Project at Montana State University, Bozeman
  • Angela Speck, professor of astrophysics and director of astronomy at the University of Missouri, Columbia
  • Dave Boboltz, program director of solar physics in the Division of Astronomical Sciences at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Virginia
  • Linda Shore, executive director of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in San Francisco
  • Matt Penn, astronomer at the National Solar Observatory in Tucson, Arizona

From NASA:

“For the first time in 99 years, a total solar eclipse will cross the entire nation Aug. 21. Representatives from NASA, other federal agencies, and science organizations, will provide important viewing safety, travel and science information during two briefings at the Newseum in Washington starting at 1 p.m. EDT Wednesday, June 21. 

“The event will air live on NASA Television and stream on the agency’s website.

“Over the course of 100 minutes, 14 states across the United States will experience more than two minutes of darkness in the middle of the day. Additionally, a partial eclipse will be viewable across all of North America. The eclipse will provide a unique opportunity to study the sun, Earth, moon and their interaction because of the eclipse’s long path over land coast to coast. Scientists will be able to take ground-based and airborne observations over a period of an hour and a half to complement the wealth of data and images provided by space assets.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that has launched once before will make its second flight no earlier than Friday, June 23, to launch BulgariaSat-1, the first Bulgarian satellite, from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The launch was delayed from a Monday liftoff due to a suspect payload fairing valve. SpaceX will launch the mission at 2:10 p.m. EDT (1810 GMT) and has a two-hour window that closes at 4:10 pm EDT (2010 GMT), if needed. You can watch the launch here – as well as directly from SpaceX’s webcast site – starting at 1:55 p.m. EDT (1755 GMT), as SpaceX’s webcast will begin about 15 minutes before launch. 

Preview Story: SpaceX to Launch 1st Satellite for Bulgaria (on a Used Rocket!) Monday

This launch will mark SpaceX’s second flight using a used Falcon 9 first stage. The booster being used on this flight previously launched SpaceX’s Iridium-1 mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base in January of this year. After launch, the booster is expected to land on SpaceX’s off-shore droneship “Of Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic Ocean.

From SpaceX:

“BulgariaSat-1 is a geostationary communications satellite built by SSL in Palo Alto, Calif., which will provide direct-to-home television (DTH) and data communications services to Southeastern Europe and other European regions. It will be located at the Bulgarian orbital position at 1.9 degrees East longitude and will provide reliable satellite communications solutions to broadcast, telecom, corporate and government customers.

“BulgariaSat-1’s payload includes 30 Broadcast Satellite Service (BSS) Ku-band transponders and two Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) Ku-band transponders, in order to meet the current demand for high quality HDTV and Ultra HDTV broadcasting, as well as various other communications applications.

“BulgariaSat-1 is designed based on SSL’s proven 1300 series platform and it will provide service in the Balkans, Eastern and Western Europe, the Middle East, Northern Africa, and the Caucasus with its highpower European beam. In addition, BulgariaSat-1 is equipped with a spot beam which can be used to provide extra capacity over the Balkans. The satellite is designed to provide service for 15 years or longer.”

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