WASHINGTON—A rocket streaked along the eastern U.S. early evening sky Tuesday in an unusual sight as NASA put a smartphone and 28 other tiny satellites into orbit.

NASA and the Air Force launched the private Minotaur rocket from Wallops Island, Va., in a test flight. The NASA launch pad is getting more use, giving more Americans a view of soaring spacecraft that used to be limited to Florida and California.

Experts estimated that the launch would be seen from Savannah, Ga., to Montreal to central Ohio.

One of the satellites is controlled by the guts of an off-the-shelf smartphone as NASA experiments with small, cheap, orbiting science projects.

The rocket, built by Orbital Sciences Corporation, also carries a satellite built by Virginia high school students.


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