sounding rocket

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sounding rocket

A rocket providing relatively inexpensive brief flights (typically 4–10 minutes) for studying the Earth's upper atmosphere and for making high-altitude astronomical observations. Information collected by instruments on board is radioed or sometimes parachuted back to Earth. First launched in 1946, sounding rockets are generally single-stage rockets. After completion of rocket motor firing they can coast upward before dropping back to Earth. The latest sounding rockets can reach an altitude of 1000 km.

sounding rocket

[′sau̇nd·iŋ ‚räk·ət]
(aerospace engineering)
A rocket that carries aloft equipment for making observations of or from the upper atmosphere.