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Wallops rocket launch provided a colorful sky Wednesday evening

Colorful clouds were visible over the ocean to residents in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern...
Colorful clouds were visible over the ocean to residents in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern United States as the Sun illuminates the vapor before it diffuses harmlessly into space.(NASA)
Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 1:26 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 3, 2021 at 11:21 PM EST
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UPDATE: A rocket was launched from Wallops Island Flight Facility late Wednesday afternoon. The launch was to study ionization in space just outside the Earth’s atmosphere. The three-stage rocket launch was conducted for the Department of Defense.

With clear skies, condensation from the rocket left a visible condensation trail along with windblown cirrus clouds.

After flying to an altitude of several hundred miles and about 500 miles off-shore, the rocket’s payload released a small quantity of vapor – an amount equivalent to about two BBQ grill propane tanks - into the near-vacuum of space.

According to NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, there is no danger to public health or the Earth’s environment from the vapor release.

After the vapor release, colorful clouds were visible over the ocean to residents in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern United States as the Sun illuminates the vapor before it diffused harmlessly into space.

ORIGINAL STORY: A three-stage suborbital sounding rocket is scheduled for launch Wednesday afternoon, March 3, for the Department of Defense from NASA’s launch range at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The launch will study ionization in space just beyond the reaches of Earth’s atmosphere.

After flying to an altitude of several hundred miles and about 500 miles off-shore, the rocket’s payload will release a small quantity of vapor – an amount equivalent to about two BBQ grill propane tanks - into the near-vacuum of space.

According to NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, there is no danger to public health or the Earth’s environment from the vapor release.

After the vapor release, colorful clouds may be visible over the ocean to residents in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern United States as the Sun illuminates the vapor before it diffuses harmlessly into space.

WILL WE SEE IT IN SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA?

Depending on where you live, areas in the higher elevations with an unobstructed view of the eastern horizon may have a vantage point to see the vapor trail. You’d certainly want to get up higher in elevation. Weather conditions should be partly cloudy. Stay with WDBJ7 for updates on the when to look Wednesday as we learn more information.

No real-time launch status updates will be available. The launch will not be shown live on the Internet nor will launch status updates be provided during the countdown on social media. The NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will not be open for viewing the launch.

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