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NASA rocket launch at Wallops Flight Facility postponed from today to Saturday


If you were planning to look up in the sky tonight to catch a glimpse of the NASA rocket that is scheduled to be launched from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, you’ll have to wait again at least one more day.

After six delays during the past week — most of which were related to unfavorable weather conditions like cloudy skies or upper-level winds — NASA has decided to postpone Friday night’s scheduled launch as they assess the rocket for potential damage.

As of now, NASA is hoping to get its Black Brant XII rocket off the launching pad no earlier than 8:10 p.m. on Saturday, May 15.

The rocket will release a chemical that will create two harmless vapor clouds as part of a mission to study energy and momentum in different regions of the atmosphere.

NASA says the rocket and the greenish-violet vapor clouds may be briefly visible from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and other eastern states, along with Bermuda — the area where the barium vapors are expected to be released into the sky.

The rocket launch was originally scheduled for last Friday, May 7, but the launch was postponed hours in advance because of weather conditions in eastern Virginia, where the Wallops Flight Facility is located.

Rescheduled launches on Saturday, Sunday and Monday were each scrubbed by upper-level winds that were deemed unsafe for the mission.

On Tuesday night, with the rocket on the launch pad and conditions looking favorable at first, the launch was called off with about 1 minute to go in the 40-minute launch window because skies in Bermuda and at the Wallops Flight Facility were deemed to be too cloudy.

NASA postponed the next scheduled launch, on Wednesday night, saying time was needed for an inspection after the rocket “came in contact with a launcher support” during launch preparations at the agency’s flight facility.

A NASA official told Newsweek that the support structure involved in the incident was a “metal stand that supports the launch rail.”

“In abundance of caution it was decided to inspect the integrity of the motors, umbilical connections and sections between the motors to make sure everything is in the proper condition for flight,” the official told Newsweek, adding it “is normal for these type of science missions to have delays.”

NASA rocket launch viewing times 5-7-21

This map shows when the NASA rocket may be visible after launch from the Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia. NASA says two vapor clouds will form north of Bermuda about 9 minutes and 30 seconds after launch as part of the mission and may also be visible from the eastern United States and Bermuda.NASA

If the launch goes off as scheduled Saturday, it can be watched on NASA’s live video stream.

If you live in eastern United States, you’ll need a clear view of whatever section of the sky is in line with eastern Virginia. For New Jersey, that’s the southeastern sky.

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Len Melisurgo may be reached at LMelisurgo@njadvancemedia.com.





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