Saturday, June 27, 2015

Student Experiments Launched by NASA's Sounding Rocket from Wallops Flight Facility

Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding rocket launches from Wallops Flight Facility on June 25, 2015. Photo Credit: NASA Wallops Optics Lab

Several student experiments were successfully launched by NASA Thursday, June 25, using the agency’s Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding rocket. The liftoff took place at 6 a.m. EDT (10:00 GMT) from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The rocket took the students’ payload to an altitude of 71.4 miles (115 kilometers) and then the payload descended by parachute into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Virginia, where it was recovered by NASA.

The Terrier-Improved Orion launch vehicle 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 has a bi-phase propellant system (boost-sustain). The system in this configuration is capable of sending payloads ranging from 200 to 800 pounds to the altitudes of approximately 200 to 80 kilometers (124 to 50 miles), respectively.

The Terrier motor is 18 inches (46 cm) in diameter and is configured with 2.5 square feet or 4.8 square feet fin panels arranged in a cruciform configuration. The Orion motor is 14 inches (36 cm) in diameter and 110 inches (279 cm) long.

The payload launched Thursday is part of RockOn/RockSat-C programs which help students learn and apply skills required to develop experiments for suborbital rocket flight.

RockOn is a hands-on workshop teaching participants how to create a spaceflight experiment, program a flight computer, and collect and analyze data. After attending RockOn, groups participate in the more advanced RockSat-C program to design, build, and launch a sounding rocket payload.

However, it’s not only about students, middle school educators also take part in the sounding rocket launches, learning about rocketry basics. The program is called the Wallops Rocket Academy for Teachers (WRATS ).

More than 200 middle school and university students and instructors were at Wallops to witness Thursday’s launch, NASA said.

The previous sounding rocket launch from Wallops was performed on April 18, 2015. The next launch at Wallops is scheduled for July 7. A Black Brant IX suborbital sounding rocket will be launched between 6 and 10 a.m. EST.

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