NASA to Test New Deployment System at Wallops - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

NASA to Test New Deployment System at Wallops

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WALLOPS FLIGHT CENTER, Va. -- NASA will test a new sub-payload deployment method for suborbital rocket missions with the launch of a Black Brant IX sounding rocket between 5 and 6 a.m., Aug. 28, from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The backup launch days are Aug. 29 and Sept. 2 through 8.

NASA says the sub-payload deployment method being tested on this flight uses small rocket motors like those used in model rockets to eject the sub-payloads from the main payload. During the demonstration two sub-payloads with mixtures of mainly barium, and small amounts of the natural earth metals lithium and strontium, and two sub-payloads with only lithium will be deployed from the sounding rocket.

By burning the metals rapidly, they vaporize to form clouds or trails that are used as tracers that will help to measure the wind in the transition region between the Earth's atmosphere and space. NASA says the vapor releases occur at approximately 9 to 10 minutes after vehicle lift-off between 124 and 217 miles above the Earth.

The byproducts from burning these metals do not pose a risk to health or the environment given their release in space, according to NASA officials. They say the amount of barium, strontium and lithium used in the test is much smaller than that used in a typical municipal 4th of July fireworks display, for example. The colors in these displays are the result of rapidly burning small amounts of these earth metals. For instance, barium generally produces a blue-green cloud while strontium and lithium produce blue and red.

The vaporized clouds may be seen by residents in the Northeastern and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States from Maine to the North/South Carolina border and west to Pittsburgh; Clarksburg, West Virginia; and Greensboro, North Carolina.

The payload is expected to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean about 208 miles from Wallops Island and will not be recovered.

The NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will open at 4 a.m. for viewing the launch.

 

 

 

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