Clouds Scrub Wallops Rocket Launch... Again

A Terrier Improved-Malemute suborbital rocket takes off Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016 at Wallops Flight Facility.

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (Delmarva Now) -- The launch of a cloud-making sounding rocket  scheduled from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia early Sunday morning was postponed again, NASA said in a news release. 

Clear skies are required for scientists on the ground to view the highlight of the mission: colorful clouds of vapor that will be deployed about four minutes into the flight.

But clouds on Sunday morning would have impacted the ability to test the new ampoule ejection system designed to support studies of the ionosphere and aurora, NASA said.

Sunday’s launch of the 670-pound rocket was scheduled for shortly after 5 a.m.

While the launch window runs through June 6, forecast weather is not conducive for supporting the test mission through the remainder of the window, NASA said. It said  The launch is now scheduled for no earlier than June 11, pending range availability. 

NASA has two ground stations — at Wallops and Duck, N.C. — to view blue-green and red artificial clouds that will be produced as part of the test. Clear skies are required at one of the two ground stations for this test. 

The June 4 attempt was the fourth for this mission. The first two attempts were scrubbed due to winds and clouds. The third attempt was scrubbed due to boats in the launch hazard area.

The multi-canister ampoule ejection system flying on this mission will allow scientists to gather information over a much larger area than previously able.

The Pepsi-sized canisters will deploy between 4 and 5.5 minutes after launch releasing blue-green and red vapor to form artificial clouds. These clouds, or vapor tracers, allow scientists on the ground to visually track particle motions in space. The clouds may be visible along the mid-Atlantic coastline from New York to North Carolina.

More information on the new date and time will be released when available; updates will be posted to www.nasa.gov/wallops

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