After weather postponed the launch several times, NASA will again attempt to finally launch the KiNET-X rocket from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia this weekend.
The launch may provide a brief light show visible to those along the East Coast and in Charleston.
As of Friday morning, viewing conditions in Charleston are looking good for the weekend as the forecast calls for a mostly clear skies Saturday night. To see the launch, look to the low east sky approximately 30 to 90 seconds after launch.
The goal of the mission is to explore energy transport in space. This study should help scientists answer how this happens by using colorful vapor tracers to study winds in the upper atmosphere.
A four stage rocket will be used for the mission that will include the release of barium vapor approximated 9 to 10 minutes into the flight at an altitude of 200 miles. This vapor is not harmful to the environment and won’t likely be visible to observers, but the rocket trail should be visible for those along the East Coast. The best viewing conditions will follow the rocket’s downstream path over the Atlantic and Bermuda.
NASA will have live coverage of the mission beginning at 7:40 p.m. on launch day. According to NASA, the launch window is scheduled for no earlier than 8:21 p.m. Saturday evening and will stay open for 40 minutes.
If the launch is scrubbed Saturday, another backup attempt is scheduled for Sunday, May 16.