Virginia’s Wallops Flight Test Facility launches research sounding rocket Thursday morning

Posted at 5:59 AM, Jun 21, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-21 09:03:09-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - More than a hundred students and teachers gathered early Thursday morning, June 21, at NASA's Wallops Flight Test Facility on Virginia's Eastern Shore to watch their experiments launch on a sounding rocket. Seventeen of these educational experiments launched on a single Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding rocket from NASA’s Launch Range. Each experiment is the brainchild of university instructors and students from across the U.S.

The group is in Virginia this week for the fifth annual RockOn! workshop, dubbed "Rocket Week," where NASA is hosting these participants and providing hands-on training in building payloads for spaceflight. NASA is teaching the basics of rocketry and helping teachers develop activities for the classroom for university-level participants. Wallops has also hosted this week the second Wallops Rocket Academy for Teachers and Students (WRATS) for high school teachers.

"RockOn! and WRATS provide a unique experience for students, faculty and teachers to understand the importance of a sounding rocket suborbital launch and the value of science that is collected," said Joyce Winterton, senior advisor for education and leadership development at Wallops. "Both opportunities demonstrate the practical application of science, technology, engineering and mathematics."

"The experiments built by university instructors and students from across the country were developed through programs conducted with the Colorado and Virginia and Space Grant Consortia," says NASA. "The programs are designed to provide participants an introduction in building small experiments that can be launched on sounding rockets."

The launch window today opened June 21 at 5 a.m. EDT, with the sounding rocket launching at 6:40 a.m. EDT. Watch our CBS 6 coverage of the launch as it happened live below:

The rocket experienced a few delays as a result of boats entering the launch "hazard area." Whenever a vessel enters that range, the countdown clock stops and the crew must wait until the boats move safely away from the launching sounding rocket.

You can get updates from NASA's Wallops Flight Test Facility on the Eastern Shore through their Facebook page and their Twitter feed.

The rocket was not visible to us in central Virginia, but was for those along the Bay closer to the Eastern Shore, with the following range of visibility:

NASA said prior to the launch, "The 35-foot-tall rocket is expected to fly to an altitude of about 75 miles. After launch and payload recovery, the participants will conduct preliminary data analysis and discuss their results."

CLICK HERE for a photo gallery from this morning's launch.

Early this morning, two smaller test rockets were launched to check that the radar systems were functioning properly before the main launch.

For more information on RockOn! and RockSat, CLICK HERE
For more information about the WRATS programs, CLICK HERE.
For more information about NASA's education programs CLICK HERE.

Meteorologist Carrie Rose
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