How to Watch a NASA Rocket Create (Sorta) Rainbow Clouds for Pride

by Monica Hunter-Hart

NASA announced that the launch has been delayed until June 13, Tuesday night. If conditions allow, the launch window is between 9:04 p.m. and 9:19 pm.)

Even NASA is celebrating Pride Month — well, sort of. An agency rocket will launch on Monday evening and release vapors to create colorful artificial clouds. It’ll be a bit like a rainbow-by-night, which is pretty freaking cool (even though it’s not technically meant for Pride), and you definitely won’t want to miss it.

The purpose of the mission is to test out a new multicanister ejection system that NASA designed for collecting data across a large area to help researchers study aurora and the ionosphere. The expelled vapors will “allow scientists on the ground to visually track particle motions in space,” the agency explained in a press release.

The launch will occur between 9:04 to 9:19 p.m. Eastern from the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. About five minutes after the rocket has taken off, it will release ten canisters containing cupric-oxide, strontium, and barium vapors to make red and blue-green clouds.

This will be the fifth time that NASA has tried to undergo the mission. Researchers kept getting unlucky with the weather and needing to delay it; let’s hope the atmosphere cooperates tonight.

Here are the places from which you may be able to see the clouds. 


Even though the event isn’t technically for Pride, it’s still a fitting tribute. Monday is the twelfth day of Pride Month and the one-year anniversary of the attacks at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Unfortunately, the clouds won’t actually be visible from Florida, but they will be observable along other parts of the East Coast: If the weather is clear, residents of the states between New York and North Carolina will be able to see them with the naked eye.

The whole mission may only take about eight minutes, so be sure to tune in on time.

Check out the stream below, or watch it on NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility Facebook page or the Wallops UStream site.

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