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RockOn!: Suborbital rocket with students’ experiments successfully launched from Wallops

A Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding rocket lifts off at 6:06 a.m. EDT on Friday, June 24, from the Wallops Flight Facility.

A Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding rocket lifts off at 6:06 a.m. EDT on Friday, June 24, from the Wallops Flight Facility. Photo Credit: NASA / Patrick Black

A Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding rocket successfully lifted off at 6:06 a.m. EDT on Friday, June 24, carrying students’ experiments. The launch was conducted by NASA from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The launch was initially scheduled for Thursday, June 23; however, bad weather forced the agency to delay it one day.

“Perfect Rocket Launch at NASA Wallops! RockOn!” NASA tweeted few hours after liftoff.

The experiments that flew on the sounding rocket are part of the RockOn/RockSat-C programs. The aim of these student programs is to design and build a sounding rocket payload, and launch the payload on a rocket. Payloads shall be student based with faculty and industry involvement only.

RockSat-C actively engages the students through full design-process mentoring, assisting them through the design phase. During the RockOn workshop, students learn through hands-on activities: how to build a sounding rocket payload or RocketSat. Every year, teams of three construct their rocket payload from a kit in three days and launch it on sounding rocket on the sixth day.

On Friday, the payload flew to an altitude of about 74 miles (119 kilometers) and descended by parachute into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Wallops. According to NASA, the payload will be recovered from the ocean.

More than 200 students from middle and high schools, as well as colleges and universities across the country, witnessed the launch. High school teachers were also at the launch site thanks to the Wallops Rocket Academy for Teachers and Students (WRATS) program, to learn about the basics of rocketry. WRATS allows teachers and students participate in person or virtually in authentic, hands-on experiences that are based on NASA’s sounding rocket engineering and science data collection.

The Terrier-Orion rocket system is a two stage spin-stabilized rocket system which utilizes a Terrier MK 12 Mod 1 or Mk70 for the first stage and an Improved Orion motor for the second stage. The rocket is 14 inches (35.6 centimeters) in diameter and 110 inches (2.8 meters) long. It is capable of carrying an 85-pound (39-kilogram) payload to an altitude of 55 miles (88 kilometers).

Next flight from Wallops is scheduled to take place on August 16 when a Terrier-Improved Malemute suborbital sounding rocket is expected to be launched between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. EDT. It will be carrying the RockSat-X education payload.

Wallops Flight Facility is NASA’s principal facility for management and implementation of suborbital research programs. According to NASA, it provides a fast, low-cost, highly flexible and safe response to meet the needs of the U.S. aerospace technology interests and science research.

MK12 Terrier-Improved Orion rocket before June 24 launch, with WRATS teachers & RockOn/RockSat-C participants.

MK12 Terrier-Improved Orion rocket before June 24 launch, with WRATS teachers & RockOn/RockSat-C participants. Photo Credit: NASA Wallops on Twitter

A Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding rocket lifts off at 6:06 a.m. EDT on Friday, June 24, from the Wallops Flight Facility.

A Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding rocket lifts off at 6:06 a.m. EDT on Friday, June 24, from the Wallops Flight Facility. Photo Credit: NASA / Patrick Black

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Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.

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