NASA to launch rocket Friday night for research mission

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FILE – In this May 30, 2020, file photo, a SpaceX Falcon 9, with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in the Dragon crew capsule, lifts off from Pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. For the first time in nearly a decade, astronauts blasted towards orbit aboard an American rocket from American soil, a first for a private company. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — NASA is set to launch a rocket from their Wallops Island location just before 8 p.m. on Friday, May 7.

With a 40-minute launch window, the NASA Black Brant XII will take off on a mission to perform research about how energy and momentum are transported in space.

The mission is known as the “KiNETic-scale energy and momentum transport eXperiment,” or KiNet-X for short.

This experiment will start with the release of a cloud of vapor into the atmosphere. The vapor is not harmful to the environment or public health, NASA assured.

The vapor will be released between 9-and-a-half and 10 minutes after launch, which equates to roughly 217 to 249 miles altitude over the Atlantic Ocean and 540 to 560 miles downrange from the launch site and just north of the island of Bermuda.

After the vapor is exposed to sunlight, the vapor clouds will ionize quickly and change color to a shade of violet. The clouds will be a mixture of green and violet, however, this phase will only last for about 30 seconds.

The human eye will not be able see these colors very well, especially in the dark, compared to previous vapor missions.

You may, however, be able to see the rocket launch itself. Depending on your location, here is a computer model forecast for the time of the launch on Friday evening:

Notice how much of the area is seeing clouds and even precipitation. If this forecast holds true, chances are the rocket launch will be delayed.

NASA has dates set through May 16 in the event of a postponement.

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