Five-Rocket NASA Mission Lights Up Sky

Science mission finally gets green light
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2012 8:15 AM CDT

(Newser) – After almost two weeks of delays, NASA finally launched its ATREX experiment this morning, lighting up the early morning sky as five rockets hurtled into the air. The rockets released chemicals into the air to create artificial glowing clouds at the edge of space, MSNBC reports. Those clouds will help NASA study high-level winds like the jet stream, which is located some 60 miles above Earth's surface. The sounding rockets were to reach suborbital space before returning to earth.

The mission was originally supposed to launch on March 15, but has been on hold for various reasons, including radio interference and weather issues. It was almost delayed again this morning, but at almost the last possible minute before the 5am deadline, they finally blasted off from NASA's facility in Wallops Island, Virginia. Observers from North Carolina to Massachusetts reported seeing glowing streaks, as the rockets' trimethyl aluminum discharges caught the light of the not-yet-risen sun.

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