NASA Wallops Rocket Launch Moved To Next Week, But Here’s How You Can Watch Colorful ‘Light Show’ [Updated]

UPDATE [6/4/2017, 12:41 p.m. ET]:

Unfortunately for those looking forward to seeing the “light show” emerging from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, the space agency announced this morning that due to further weather-related hitches, it will be rescheduling its sounding rocket launch to no earlier than June 11, “pending range availability.” Live coverage will begin on the Wallops Ustream site at 3:45 a.m. ET on launch day.

Original Report:

Earlier this morning, many Eastern Seaboard residents had awoken early in hopes of seeing a “light show” courtesy of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. But with the space agency postponing the rocket launch that was supposed to facilitate this impressive predawn display, residents were left disappointed, having to wait one more day for the rocket launch to take place.

According to a report from CNN, residents from New York to North Carolina were supposed to be treated to the sight of “blue-green and red clouds” early on Saturday morning. This was because the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s eastern shore was preparing to launch the Terrier-Improved Malumute sounding rocket between 4:26 a.m. and 4:41 a.m. ET.

Unfortunately, that launch didn’t take place as scheduled, as NASA wrote earlier today in a press release confirming the postponement to Sunday, June 4, with the same launch window of 4:26 to 4:41 a.m. ET. According to the space agency, weather was a factor in previous postponements, but this time, it was another unforeseen event that forced the launch to be moved one day later.

“While the winds and skies were the issues the previous two launch attempts, this morning’s attempt was scrubbed because of boats in the second stage impact area.”

[Image by NASA]

Had NASA’s Wallops facility gone forward with the rocket launch, the Terrier-Improved Malumute would have released 10 soft drink can-sized canisters, each loaded with colored vapor that would allow sky gazers to witness something akin to a light show. According to NASA, the clouds that appear when the vapor is released are created when barium, strontium, and cupric-oxide interact with each other. And while this may sound like a dangerous mix of elements, the space agency assured mid-Atlantic coast residents that the clouds do not pose any risk whatsoever due to the fact they would be formed about 100 miles above ground.


As seen on the above social media responses, many people have eagerly been waiting for NASA’s Wallops facility to launch the sounding rocket, waking up unusually early for three times, only for the launch to be scrubbed for one reason or another. NASA’s press release had extensively documented the previous times Wallops had prepared for the rocket launch before a series of last-minute hitches, mostly related to weather, pushed the event back.

This time, the last-minute hitch came in the form of boats in one of the impact areas, and it’s safe to say people are getting impatient and hoping that nothing will come in the way of the NASA Wallops “light show” on Sunday morning.


For those who are interested in checking tomorrow’s oft-delayed rocket launch, NASA wrote that the vapor tracers will potentially be viewable from New York to North Carolina, and as far west as Charlottesville, Virginia. Again, weather will play a factor in visibility, as clear skies would be ideal for the “light show” to be as visible as it should be. That’s because the eight-minute launch requires scientists to observe how the artificially colored clouds move from ground camera stations in Wallops and Duck, N.C.

CNN recommends that sky gazers near the East Coast look toward the eastern horizon starting at about 4:30 a.m. Those farther north in cities such as New York, Philadelphia, or Washington, D.C. would be able to view the NASA Wallops light show in the lower southeastern sky. Those in southern cities such as Norfolk and Virginia Beach are advised to look toward the northeast, while those in Richmond and Charlottesville would get the best view directly to the east.

If you don’t live in any of the aforementioned areas, NASA will be live streaming the event as it happens and will provide updates on the NASA Wallops social media pages. The space agency has confirmed that Sunday’s live stream will take place at 3:45 a.m., or less than an hour before the sounding rocket is launched.

[Featured Image by NASA]