NASA launched the first of two suborbital sounding rockets from the Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's Eastern Shore earlier this morning. The first rocket splashed into the Atlantic Ocean about 66 miles off the coast, as the 875 pound payload was recovered by NASA officials for re-use and analysis after a successful suborbital research flight.
Saturday's launch will be even bigger, as the 65 foot tall rocket will launch 176 miles above the Earth before landing several hundred miles off the coast.
Sounding rockets are often called research rockets, and can get to areas in the atmosphere that are normally inaccessible to weather balloons and satellites.
In addition, the Wallops Flight Facility announced this week that it plans to develop a $30 million 5 year endeavor that will attempt to send unmanned aircraft into intense hurricanes. The team hopes to learn more about these storms that cause billions of dollars in property damage and impact the lives of millions of coastal residents.