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NASA Rocket Launch Live Stream Video Coverage at 4:30 P.M. ET, Light Show Visible Along U.S. Atlantic Coast

By Dexter Keyton, EnStars
on Jan 29, 2013 03:09 PM EST
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NASA will launch a rocket tonight at around 5:30 p.m. ET that will likely be seen from parts of the Atlantic seaboard of the U.S. depending on weather.

The rocket will launch from Virginia at NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility with a mission of testing information gathering technology to be helpful for other projects in development.

The flight path of the rocket is supposed to be visible along the East Coast with a spectacular display worth of the attention of stargazers.

The rocket will create an artificial night sky display caused by an experiment with a chemical tracer that should create two bright, red-colored lithium vapor trails in space, according to a NASA report on Friday.

NASA explained the details on the light phenomenon that will be visible: "The sounding rocket that will be used to create the two NASA-made glowing cloud trails will be a Terrier-Improved Orion. In this technology test launch, two canisters in the rocket's payload section will contain solid metal lithium rods or chips embedded in a thermite cake. The thermite is ignited and produces heat to vaporize the lithium. Once the vapor is released in space, it can be detected and tracked optically. The rocket will eject two streams of lithium which will be illuminated at high altitudes by the sun (which will be below the local horizon at ground level)."

The vapor trails from the sounding rocket may be seen by observers across the mid-Atlantic region and possibly from even further away.

NASA's night light show is expected to start at 5:30 p.m. ET and extend to 6:50 p.m. ET, but the optimum target time is 5:45 p.m. ET.

The launch has a possibility to be postponed for another day depending on any unfavorable weather conditions.

A live stream webcast of the launch starts today at 4:30 p.m. ET provided by Space.com.

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