NASA Rocket Launch Will Test Science Package for Future Missions At Wallops Island!

Credits: NASA Wallops/Berit Bland

NASA will test new science equipment for future missions with a sounding rocket launch August 22 from its Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.


The Sporadic-E ElectroDynamics Demonstration mission, or SpEED Demon, will fly new instrumentation along with heritage instruments that have flown on other sounding rocket missions, but not together. The SpEED Demon instruments will be further improved based on results from this launch and will subsequently fly on a science mission targeted for summer 2024 from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands and possibly many other sounding rocket opportunities.

Credits: NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility

SpEED Demon will launch on a 40-foot tall Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket between 9 p.m. EDT Aug. 22 and 1 a.m. Aug. 23. The backup launch dates are Aug. 23 through Aug. 27.


The NASA Wallops Visitor Center will open to the public at 8 p.m. on launch day for viewing the flight. The rocket launch is expected to be visible from the mid-Atlantic/Chesapeake Bay region. Live coverage of the mission is scheduled to begin at 8:40 p.m. on the Wallops YouTube site.

NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) spacecraft discovered “layers” and “rifts” in the electrically charged part of the upper atmosphere (the ionosphere) of Mars. The phenomenon is similar to commonly occurring sporadic-E layers on Earth, which SpEED Demon is studying, that can cause unpredictable disruptions to radio communications. This unexpected discovery by MAVEN shows that Mars is a unique laboratory to explore and better understand this highly disruptive phenomenon that can occur on presumably any planet.
Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

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