A towering white slit will appear off the East Coast. NASA offers an explanation


A rocket is scheduled to launch from Virginia on June 15 and you may see the rocket’s trail in the sky.

NASA image

A towering white slit may appear in the sky Tuesday morning off the East Coast.

The mysterious steamy streak will be the result of a rocket launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility near the Virginia coast.

It will appear around 7 a.m. on June 15 and resemble the contrail of a jet — only going straight up, NASA says.

Weather permitting, the stream could be visible from central Maine south to eastern Georgia, experts say. It’s not clear how long the contrail will be visible, officials told McClatchy News.

NASA identified the rocket as a Northrop Grumman Corporation Minotaur 1, and it will be “carrying three national security payloads for the National Reconnaissance Office.”

Wallops will be closed to the public during the launch, but live coverage will be broadcast starting at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday on the Wallops YouTube channel.

NASA launch alerts are intended in part to ease public concerns — and emergency calls — when strange things appear in the sky during launches.

It is common for UFO sighting reports to spike after launches, due to the colorful orbs, streaks and “spherical clouds” created when multi-stage rockets interact with the atmosphere, McClatchy News reported in May. The atmospheric effects are often linked to barium vapor, experts say.

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Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.

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