What’s that in the sky? Launch from Wallops leaves colorful clouds above Hampton Roads region

Accomack County

ACCOMACK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — Some cool colorful clouds could be seen in the sky Wednesday due to a research launch from Wallops Flight Facility.

NASA said a sounding rocket was scheduled for takeoff during the afternoon on March 3 for the Department of Defense.

The launch will help study ionization in space just beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. To do this, NASA said the payload would release a small, non-hazardous vapor cloud shortly after launching.

The amount of vapor released is about the equivalent of “two BBQ grill propane tanks,” according to NASA. The vapor is harmless and will only be seen for a short period of time before it diffuses into space. 

The cloud was expected to be visible for Hampton Roads residents and anyone in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern United States.

Officials say the payload was expected be released after the rocket reaches an altitude of several hundred miles and about 500 miles off-shore.

Sounding rockets are typically small, low-cost rockets used to carry experiments for research and designed to take measurements.

Per NASA:

No real-time launch status updates was available.

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