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.
Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006

sounding rocket

[′sau̇nd·iŋ ‚räk·ət]
(aerospace engineering)
A rocket that carries aloft equipment for making observations of or from the upper atmosphere.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.