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NASA Sounding Rocket Launch from Wallops to Test New Technologies

NASA's Wallops Flight Facility is scheduled to launch a sounding rocket for the Suborbital Technology Experiment Carrier (SubTEC-9) mission April 24.

UPDATE: The planned April 24 launch of the Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket carrying the SubTEC-9 technology demonstration has been scrubbed due to issues with payload instrumentation. The next launch opportunity is Tuesday, April 25, with a 7:15-8:15 p.m. ET launch window.

A sounding rocket seconds in mid-launch off the launch pad with a bright white plume the spreads out underneath the rocket when it hits the ground. The rocket is white on the bottom and darker up to the top.
The SubTEC 7 mission launched on a Black Brant IX from Wallops Island Virginia, May 16, 2017. The upcoming SubTEC-9 mission will build upon the successes of past SubTEC missions to test new technologies to be used in the future.
NASA/Allison Stancil

NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility is scheduled to launch a sounding rocket for the Suborbital Technology Experiment Carrier (SubTEC-9) mission April 24. The mission will test several new technologies under development by the Sounding Rockets Program Office (SRPO).

The launch window for the mission is 7:15-8:15 p.m. EDT. The Wallops Visitor Center’s launch viewing area will open at 6:15 p.m. for launch viewing. Coverage of the mission will begin 15 minutes before launch on the Wallops YouTube channel.

Since the first SubTEC launch in 2005, the SubTEC missions have provided an opportunity for the sounding rocket team to test and demonstrate new or improved technologies prior to their use on science missions.

“The SubTEC-9 mission is a test flight used to test 14 new technology development experiments that enable new capabilities for the science community,” said Josh Yacobucci, the principal investigator for the mission and sounding rocket technology manager at Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia.

The SubTEC-9 mission will be launched from Wallops on a two-stage Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket. The rocket will be testing a new star tracker and a faster telemetry link. The high-data-rate C-band telemetry link will transmit data from the rocket to the ground in real time, monitoring the rocket’s performance and tracking its progress. The technology will enable data speeds four times higher than currently provided. SubTEC is also testing a new smaller star tracker which is a sensor used in attitude control systems to align to a target of interest in space. Some of the other experiments being tested include 3D-printed electronics circuits, ethernet-based components, a low-cost gyro, a new antenna, and a new high-density battery.

SubTEC-9 is expected to reach an altitude of about 108 miles (174 kilometers) before descending by parachute into the Atlantic Ocean to be recovered. Backup launch days are April 25 through 28. The launch may be visible in the Chesapeake Bay region.

NASA’s Sounding Rockets Program is managed at the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility, which is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. NASA’s Heliophysics Division funds the Sounding Rockets Program for the agency.



Last Updated
Jul 26, 2023
Patrick Black