Friday, October 9, 2015

Wallops Island Launch

In the Southern Maryland area, we live within viewing range of launches from the NASA facility at Wallops Island on the Eastern Shore. You may remember about a year ago, a rocket exploded just after liftoff. After 15 million in repairs, the facility is now back up and launches have resumed.

There was a test launch of a modified rocket on Wednesday evening. The boardwalk at North Beach is a popular site to view launches in the immediate area. The launch had a two hour window from seven to nine pm. We arrived a few minutes before seven. We didn't have to wait long.

I don't know if it was because it was a smaller rocket than the ones I have seen in the past , but it didn't look very impressive. I don't think you could see it for much more than ten seconds. I took six frames. I missed on the first two, and the rocket disappeared by the sixth. The shutter speed was two second per image, so that was around ten seconds.

Although the night was clear, the rocket just disappeared right after I took this image. I do know it was a "suborbital" flight, so maybe they just killed the engine when it reached altitude. They were also going to release some chemicals into the ionosphere for an experiment.

Here is what the launch looked like from the facility itself.

Their website is:

If you are interested, you can find out the launch schedule from the site. If I remember correctly, the next launch from Wallops occurs in December. We actually watched a live stream of one launch and when the countdown got down to ten seconds, we went out on the deck and looked to the East where a few seconds later, we saw the rocket heading for space. Pretty cool!

Here is a short article I found yesterday following the launch.

WALLOPS ISLAND, VIRGINIA: NASA says preliminary indications show that a modified motor performed as planned during a test flight. 

The space agency launched a NASA Black Brant IX suborbital sounding rocket at 7:07 p.m. (1107 GMT) Wednesday from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia to test the modified Black Brant motor. A launch vehicle, spacecraft systems and sub-payload technologies also were tested. 

NASA says in a news release that the technology experiments are undergoing a preliminary data analysis.

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