LIFTOFF! at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility

By on May 16, 2021

NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility 


LIFTOFF A Black Brant XII carrying the KiNET-X mission launched at 8:36 pm ET. The mission is releasing vapor tracers 9-10 minutes after launch at about 217-249 miles altitude over the Atlantic Ocean and 540-560 miles downrange from Wallops, just north of Bermuda.

After a week of waiting for the correct weather conditions, congratulations to NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on a successful launch. Scroll through the comments section on their Facebook page to view photos and videos folks sent from across the eastern coast.

LAUNCH UPDATE The Black Brant XII launch carrying the KiNET-X payload is a GO for tonight May 16. Clouds are in the forecast for both Wallops and Bermuda, but there’s a chance that Bermuda will clear up. The window will be open from 8:04-8:54 p.m. Live coverage of the mission will be available on the Wallops IBM video site beginning at 7:50 p.m.

Tonight is the last attempt for this launch time frame. The moon will begin to be too high above the horizon at sunset, so it will be too bright to be able to see vapor tracers in the sky. If we don’t launch, we will evaluate another launch time for later in the year. The map shows how many seconds after launch areas will be able to see the sounding rocket in the sky.

A mission to explore energy transport in space using a NASA suborbital sounding rocket launching at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia may provide a brief light show for residents of the eastern United States and Bermuda.

The launch may be visible, weather permitting, in much of the eastern United States from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi River.

A four-stage Black Brant XII rocket will be used for the mission that includes the release of barium vapor that will form two green-violet clouds that may be visible for about 30 seconds. The barium vapor is not harmful to the environment or public health

The mission, called the KiNETic-scale energy and momentum transport eXperiment, or KiNet-X, is designed to study a very fundamental problem in space plasmas, namely, how are energy and momentum transported between different regions of space that are magnetically connected.

The vapor will be released approximately 9 minutes and 30 seconds to around 10 minutes after launch at about 217-249 miles altitude over the Atlantic Ocean and 540-560 miles downrange from Wallops and just north of Bermuda.

Immediately after release of the vapor, the spherical clouds are a mixture of green and violet, but that phase only lasts about 30 seconds when the un-ionized component of the cloud has diffused away. After exposure to sunlight the vapor clouds quickly ionize and take on a violet color.

In general, the human eye does not see violet colors very well in darkness. The KiNET-X clouds will therefore be more difficult for the casual observer to see than some of the previous vapor missions launched from Wallops. The NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will not be open for launch viewing.




See what people are saying:

  • Luminous

    The launch couldn’t be seen at least in the Kill Devil area… too cloudy Sunday night… ironic for us because it was clear here on OBX on Friday night when they postponed the launch due to “clouds.” But those clouds were over Bermuda, closer to where the rocket was heading; they were testing vapor tracers and needed a good look at the tracers along the flight path, not from OBX.

    Monday, May 17 @ 8:32 am