top of page

Mars Parachute Test: Rocket Launch from NASA of Wallops

BUZZ BUZZ, I get a group text message from my dad at 9:00 a.m. reading: "Rocket is on schedule for 0930. The launch is green right now." Meaning that this rocket is looking good for a successful launch. Anytime a rocket is going to be launched, I definitely want to watch. As I and many locals say.. rockets are an up and coming popular topic for visitors of Chincoteague Island.

Photo Left: Alyssa Hickman, Photo Right: William (Billy) Melvin taken at Curtis Merritt Harbor, Facing Wallops Island Launch Site.

I had the opportunity to view this rocket launch with my uncle, watching it from Curtis Merritt Harbor on Chincoteague Island. The harbor is one of many front row seats to watch any rocket launch. We left around 9:20.... TEN MINUTES TO GET TO THE HARBOR! We finally pull up around 9:25, with about 5 minutes counting down until the rocket launches. We run to the edge of the water, up on a hill, and see a crowd of people. Cameras are all ready, everyone is looking up. BUZZ BUZZ, my uncle and I get a text message from my dad over at the base (NASA WFF) reading: "1 minute, all is a GO" then another BUZZ: "30 seconds" BUZZ "10 seconds" I start counting down, 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1........ A few more seconds go by and I have butterflies. Suddenly, a sounding rocket launches BEAUTIFULLY into the sky- it was a success!


The ASPIRE 3 Test was successfully launched at 9:30 a.m. on September 7th, 2018. The mission used one of NASA Wallops "Black Brant IX suborbital sounding rockets" to conduct a Parachute test for a future mission to Mars.

The payload of the rocket descended by parachute into the Atlantic Ocean, about 28 miles from Wallops Island and was a successful mission. The parachute was then recovered for further analysis.

Photos above provided by: Libby West, Projects Manager- Sounding Rockets Program Office

Another opportunity that I had was receiving pictures and information from two managers of the sounding rockets program at Wallops.... my dad, John Hickman & my good friend, Libby West.

John Hickman, Deputy Program Manager of NASA sounding rockets program says about the picture of the sounding rocket (ON THE RIGHT), "The fire from the side are the “spin motors” igniting.  To help keep the rocket on target, we need it to spin-up as quickly as possible once it leaves the launcher to help minimize the “miss distance”.  These motors are programmed to ignite at about 0.9 seconds and they burn for less than 1 second.  The spin of the rocket also provides gyroscopic stability.  Sort of like your bicycle tire that keeps you moving in a straight line when you’re riding with no hands……that’s gyroscopic stability."

The picture below is a view of the parachute as the payload descends.

Photo citation: John Hickman, Deputy Program Manager


From there, book your stay at Holiday Cottages & ask for information/viewing locations.

45 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page