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NASA Wallops Rocket Launch Now Scheduled For Sunday Night

[MAY 9 UPDATE] -- NASA is postponing the launch of the KiNET-X sounding rocket from its Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia for the third time. The new time is Monday at 8:04 p.m. The launch was postponed Sunday night due to "upper level winds not being within the limits for a safe launch."

BOSTON (CBS) — Hey what's that thing in the sky? A bird, a plane? Nope that's a rocket!

It's not every day you have the chance to see a NASA rocket hurtling over the Atlantic, but that was the plan on Friday, but due to weather in Virginia the mission was postponed until Saturday.

Well, the mission was scrubbed Saturday night due to upper level winds not being within the required limits for a safe launch. So, the mission is postponed again until Sunday.

NASA is set to launch a "Black Brant XII sounding rocket" from their Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia at 8:03 p.m. Sunday, May 9, with a launch window until 8:43 p.m. If skies are clear, the launch should be visible to folks up and down the eastern seaboard.

(WBZ-TV graphic)

Let's back up a bit. . . what exactly is this rocket launch all about? Let's get geeky for just a minute.

The mission is called KiNet-X and the goal is to study how energy and momentum is transported between regions of space that are connected magnetically. . . simple stuff, you know. HA!

This study will help scientists better understand things like Auroras and how they are formed and their movement from place to place.

To study this, the rocket will release a barium vapor about 9-10 minutes into the flight, just north of Bermuda at an altitude of over 200 miles. Don't worry, this vapor is not harmful to the environment or the public. In fact, it isn't even likely to be visible to the human eye.

NASA will be studying this vapor release however with all kinds of diagnostic instrumentation onboard the rocket. NASA calls this "a very simple experiment. . . that will allow us to quantify the flow of energy to electrons".

(WBZ-TV graphic)

Anyhow, if you are hoping to catch a glimpse of the rocket Sunday evening, it should be visible to our southeast between 30-60 seconds after launch (assuming the launch goes off on time at 8:03 p.m.). Clouds could be a factor here though ahead of a band of rain pushing into New England late Sunday.

If the weather interrupts and cancels the launch again, there are several more launch windows running through May 16th. We will keep you updated!

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