After toiling all hours of the day, including weekends, on experiments and technology demonstration projects, university and community college students from across the country will see the results of their hard work fly to space on a NASA suborbital sounding rocket  this morning , from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The launch of the 44-foot tall two-stage Terrier-Improved Malemute rocket occurred at approximately 6:24.  After flying to around 91miles altitude, the payload, with the experiments,  descended by parachute and  landed 15 minutes after launch in the Atlantic Ocean, about 64 miles off the Virginia coast. The experiments and any stored data will be provided to the students later in the day following sea recovery of the payload.

The rocket launch  was seen from the Eastern Shore of Virginia and Maryland.

The experiments are flying through the RockSat-X program in conjunction with the Colorado Space Grant Consortium. RockSat-X is the most advanced of NASA’s three-phase sounding rocket program for students.  The RockOn launches are at the entry level, then progress to the intermedia level RockSat-C missions and then RockSat-X.

Participating institutions in this flight are the University of Colorado, Boulder; the University of Puerto Rico; Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; University of Kentucky, Lexington; Capitol Technology University, Laurel, Maryland; University of Maryland, College Park; Temple University, Philadelphia; .

Also, the West Virginia Space Flight Design Challenge is a collaboration between The Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, and four colleges in West Virginia –.West Virginia University, Morgantown; Marshall University, Huntington; West Virginia State University, Institute; West Virginia Wesleyan College,  Buckhannon; and NASA’s IV & V Facility in Fairmont.

Giovanni Rosanova, chief of the Sounding Rocket Program Office at Wallops, said, “We are looking forward to the eighth flight of a RockSat-X payload on a NASA sounding rocket. Participating students are able to apply what they learn in the classroom into a hands-on project. To be a part of this process is rewarding to everyone involved in RockSat-X at Wallops.”

RockSat-X is part of a three-tier program that introduces secondary institution students to building experiments for space flight and requires them to expand their skills to develop and build projects that are more complex as students progress through the programs. RockSat-X experiments fly approximately 20 miles higher in altitude than those in the RockOn and RockSat-C programs, providing more flight time in space.