NASA Rocket Launch to Leave Colorful Trail in Night Sky - NBC 10 Philadelphia

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NASA Rocket Launch to Leave Colorful Trail in Night Sky

A suborbital Black Brand IX sounding rocket was launched from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Wednesday evening. (Published Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015)

A rocket launched on Wednesday night that is supposed to bring a spectacular, colorful sight over Philadelphia, New York, Washington, D.C. and the rest of the Mid-Atlantic as NASA tests new rocket technology.

The space agency is releasing colored gas miles above the ocean in a test that's expected to leave a blue-green and red cloud visible for hundreds of miles, between Long Island, New York, and Morehead City, North Carolina, and as far inland as Charlottesville, Virginia, according to a NASA news release.

The launch happened after 7 p.m. ET and the color show is expected to be seen until 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday night. NASA is launching a sounding rocket, used to test new technology at very high altitudes, from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The rocket will release vapor clouds of mixtures of barium and strontium roughly six minutes after the rocket is launched, at about 130 miles above ground, NASA said. A rocket motor is also among the rocket parts being tested.

"Although ground tests are often acceptable, some technologies need a 'test drive' before being integrated into space vehicles," according to a NASA news release.