WASHINGTON ­— A tiny astrophysics probe is slated to make its fourth and final suborbital flight June 4 when it lifts off aboard a Black Brant 12 sounding rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, NASA announced May 29.

The Cosmic Infrared Background ExpeRiment (CIBER), a compact astrophysics observatory designed by Jamie Bock of the California Insitute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif., has been launched, recovered and recalibrated for reflight three times since 2009. All three of those launches took place at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., and involved smaller sounding rockets than the Black Brant 12 slated for the upcoming attempt. But the higher altitude and longer observation time made possible by the Black Brant comes at a price: CIBER is expected to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean about some 700 kilometers off the Virginia coast and will not be recovered. 

The nighttime launch — live coverage begins at 10 p.m. EDT on NASA’s Ustream channel — may be visible to residents in the Mid-Atlantic region, NASA said. The backup launch dates are June 5-10.

Brian Berger is editor in chief of SpaceNews.com and the SpaceNews magazine. He joined SpaceNews.com in 1998, spending his first decade with the publication covering NASA. He was named senior staff writer in 2004, a position he held...