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A two-stage suborbital-sounding rocket for the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration has successfully launched on Saturday.

Shore Daily News said the mission was broadcasted on the Wallops YouTube channel. Its Facebook and Twitter pages were also used to provide updates during the launch.

The rocket launch should be seen from Virginia's Eastern Shore, Maryland, and southern Delaware. The launch will not be visible from the NASA Visitor Center at Wallops Island.

HOT Shot Program to Collect Scientific Data

SpaceRef said the mission is part of the HOT Shot program, collecting scientific data that aids aeronautical research and guides future weapon designs for the United States nuclear industry. Its non-nuclear scientific studies help create high-fidelity computer models and mechanical flight simulators by evaluating prototypes.

The Terrier-Malmute sounding rocket
(Photo: NASA/via Wikimedia Commons)
The Terrier-Malmute sounding rocket. The first stage booster consists of a Terrier MK 12 Mod 1 rocket motor. The second stage propulsion unit is a Thiokol Malemute TU-758 rocket motor designed especially for high-altitude research rocket applications.

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The Terrier-Malemute launch vehicle, NASA said, is a two-stage rocket with exceptional work for payloads worth less than 400 pounds. A Terrier MK 12 Mod 1 rocket engine with four 340 square inch fin sheets placed in a cruciform configuration makes up the first stage booster. The Terrier booster has an 18-inch overall diameter. The longitudinal force during the boost phase for a payload of 200 pounds is 26g—a Thiokol Malemute TU-758 rocket engine powers the second stage, explicitly built for high-altitude research rocket purposes. The Malemute has a 16-inch exterior diameter.

Previous Launches Made by Terrier-Improved Malemute

Last month, Science Times reported that NASA launched a student-built rocket through Terrier-Improved Malemute. Students from various university and community college teams from six states and one US territory worked together on the launch for years. This was the second student launch during the summer.

The 44-foot-tall sounding rocket launched from NASA's Wallops Space Facility on August 19. The launch was visible from Virginia's Eastern Shore, Maryland, and southern Delaware. The NASA Visitor Center grounds at Wallops were closed to the public for flight observation.

Students packed a payload inside the rocket with a mix of technology and scientific investigations. The cargo is expected to fall into the Atlantic Ocean once the rocket reaches a distance of about 91 miles, WKTR said.

NASA added that the same Terrier-Improved Malemute suborbital-sounding rocket was launched from the Wallops Flight Facility last May.

The two-stage rocket carried a specific Vlf trans-Ionospheric Propagation Experiment Rocket (VIPER). It was meant to investigate how radio waves that escape through the Earth's ionosphere affect the environment around GPS, and geosynchronous satellites, such as those used for weather monitoring and communications, affect these satellites' environment.

NASA first deployed the tiny sounding rockets off the coast of Virginia in 2017. According to The Verge, the launch resulted in a multi-colored cloud mix in the upper sky. The bright show was not an accident; it was the mission's principal goal.

The Terrier-Improved Malemute rocket was charged with launching canisters filled with multi-colored chemical vapors into the sky to generate colorful clouds visible from the ground.

The launches of these sounding rockets, NASA assured everyone, pose no harm to human health.

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