Pictured: the vapor release. Colorful clouds were visible over the ocean to residents in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern United States as the Sun illuminated the vapor before it diffused harmlessly into space.

A three-stage suborbital sounding rocket was launched in the afternoon on March 3, 2021, for the Department of Defense from NASA’s launch range at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The launch was to study ionization in space just beyond the reaches of Earth’s atmosphere.

After flying to an altitude of several hundred miles and about 500 miles off-shore, the rocket’s payload released a small quantity of vapor into the near-vacuum of space. There is no danger to public health or the Earth’s environment from the vapor release.