A Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding rocket successfully lifted off at 6:06 a.m. EDT on Friday, June 24, carrying student experiments. The launch was carried out 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 build 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 km) 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 in diameter and 110 inches long. It is capable of carrying an 85-lbs. (39-kg) 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 and 10 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 fast, low-cost, highly-flexible and safe response to meet the needs of the U.S. aerospace technology interests and science research.