UPDATE (Saturday, May 15): NASA has scrubbed Saturday night’s rocket launch because of cloud cover in Bermuda. The agency said it will make one final launch attempt Sunday night, May 16. Saturday was the seventh delay of the rocket launch, with most of the delays related to unfavorable weather conditions.
The question will be answered Saturday night, when NASA will try again to launch its rocket and 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 initially scheduled for last Friday, May 7, but the launch was postponed hours in advance because of unfavorable weather conditions in eastern Virginia, where the Wallops Flight Facility is located.
Rescheduled launches last weekend 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 inspections after the rocket came in contact with a metal piece of the launcher support structure during launch preparations at the agency’s flight facility.
How to watch the NASA rocket launch
If the launch goes off as scheduled tonight, it will take place any time from 8:10 p.m. to around 8:50 p.m. Eastern time. And the launch 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.
As of now, skies in northern New Jersey are forecast to be mostly cloudy Saturday night, according to AccuWeather and the National Weather Service. Skies in central New Jersey are expected to be partly cloudy. The viewing forecast looks better in South Jersey, with mostly clear skies expected in Atlantic, Cumberland and Cape May counties.
At the Wallops Flight Facility, AccuWeather is forecasting mostly clear skies Saturday night, with wind gusts up to 10 mph, and the National Weather Service is calling for clear skies and winds ranging from 6 mph to 9 mph.
In Bermuda — the other key location for the mission — the Bermuda Weather Service is calling for mostly cloudy skies, with a chance of evening rain showers. In addition, the forecast says winds will be “moderate to strong.”
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Len Melisurgo may be reached at LMelisurgo@njadvancemedia.com.