Tuesday, 08 June 2021 21:36

Next week's NASA rocket launch could be visible in the Sandhills

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The Minotaur 1 rocket is scheduled to launch at 7 a.m. June 15. The Minotaur 1 rocket is scheduled to launch at 7 a.m. June 15. Bill Ingalls - NASA

ROCKINGHAM — There will be more than just the sun rising in Richmond County’s morning sky next week.


On Tuesday, June 15, NASA and Northrop Grumman will be launching a Minotaur 1 rocket from the Wallops Flight Facility on the coast of Virginia.

The launch is expected for 7 a.m. and, weather permitting, will be seen up and down the East Coast from as far north as Maine and as far south as Georgia.

The mission, NROL-111, is being conducted for the National Reconnaissance Office. While it is unknown what the payload is, the Minotaur 1 is an expendable rocket that typically launches small satellites for the U.S. Government.

Previous NROL missions include KH-11 spy satellites as well as a number of other reconnaissance satellites.

To catch a glance of the rocket as it propels to low-Earth orbit, look in the sky north-by-northeast.

According to NASA, it can take anywhere from 60 to 90 seconds after launch to be visible in the Sandhills region.

Last month, Wallops launched a rocket for the mission, KiNET-X, which a NASA Black Brant XII sounding rocket released two barium vapor clouds for study of the Earth’s atmosphere. The barium put on quite a show for those viewing along the East Coast with a streak of green coloring clouds in the evening sky.

Forecasters are currently calling for a 30% chance of rain with partly cloudy skies that day. Stay tuned to LIVE at 5 for updates as Tuesday gets closer.