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NASA Rocket Launch Should Be Visible Along East Coast Wednesday Night

UPDATE - The launch was postponed to Wednesday, and NASA says the weather is looking much better.

NASA says the launch window will open at 8:06 p.m. and stay open for 40 minutes.

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — 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 this Friday evening might just be your shot!

NASA is set to launch a "Black Brant XII sounding rocket" from their Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia this Friday at 7:58 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.

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". Typical day at the office.

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

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