NASA rocket launch to be visible along U.S. East Coast Wednesday night

If you're on the East Coast, keep your eyes on the skies this evening–you might see something rare up there.

Between 7 and 9 p.m. EDT tonight, Wednesday, Oct. 7, people in the mid-Atlantic United States are well-positioned to catch a glimpse of NASA's latest suborbital launch from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

At the time of this blog post, the window is narrowed further: 7:07-7:31 p.m.


"Before new technologies are used in spacecraft they need to be thoroughly tested," reads the mission update page for tonight's launch. "Although ground tests are often acceptable, some technologies need a 'test drive' before being integrated into space vehicles." And that's what this launch is about.

Live coverage of the launch is available via UStream beginning at 6 p.m. on launch day. The status also can be followed on launch day via Wallops' Twitter and Facebook.

From NASA:

Approximately six minutes after launch, the sounding rocket will deploy four sub-payloads containing mixtures of barium and strontium will be released, creating a cloud that is blue-green and red in color.

Residents from Long Island, New York, 235 miles north of the launch site, to Morehead City, North Carolina, 232 miles south, 165 miles west in Charlottesville, Virginia — and everyone in between — could get a glimpse of the colorful evening launch.

Sounding rockets, also called suborbital rockets, are valuable tools in qualifying technologies for flight. During this suborbital flight, NASA will test a modified Black Brant sounding rocket motor, launch vehicle and spacecraft systems and sub-payload ejection technologies.

More information about the flight test here.