A sounding rocket launch testing science instruments for future missions was successfully conducted at 9:16 p.m. EDT, Aug. 23, 2022, from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
The Terrier-Improved Malemute carried the Sporadic-E ElectroDynamics Demonstration mission, or SpEED Demon, to an apogee of 100 miles before descending and landing in the Atlantic Ocean. The experiment was not planned to be recovered.
The purpose of the SpEED Demon mission was to test new instrumentation along with heritage instruments that have flown on other sounding rocket missions, but not together.
The SpEED Demon instruments will be further improved based on results from this launch and will subsequently fly on a science mission targeted for summer 2024 from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands and possibly many other sounding rocket opportunities.
While the main purpose of SpEED Demon is to test the instrument package, scientists are hopeful that they may be able to measure sporadic-E layers in the ionosphere, the electrified upper portion of Earth’s atmosphere that’s made of ionized gas called plasma. Sporadic-E layers on Earth can cause unpredictable disruptions to radio communications.
The next launch from Wallops is targeted for late October 2022.
Image Credit: NASA Wallops/Kyle Hoppes