An Antares rocket will be launched from Wallops Island, Virginia, on Friday morning (November 16) and must be seen, if weather permits, from the East Coast section.
In good weather, those who live near and along the Atlantic coast and west to the Appalachian will get a great opportunity to see a two-stage rocket, developed by Northrop Grumman, carrying cargo to the International Space Station. The craft will be launched from the Pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) located at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. This flight (NG CRS-10), will be the 11th planned flight of a re-controlled space shuttle, Cygnus, and the 10th flight of the ship to the International Space Station under a Commercial Procurement Service contract with NASA. The previous flight was under the branding Orbital ATK, which was absorbed by Northrop Grumman on June 6.
To reach the space station, Antares must be launched when the Earth's rotation carries the launch pad into the station's orbit field. For this upcoming mission, it will occur at 4:23 am EST (0923 GMT) on November 15. Besides watching the morning in the morning, you can see the launch online here on Space.com, owned by NASA TV. [Launch Photo: Orbital ATK’s Antares Rocket & Cygnus OA-9 Soar to ISS!]
The mission's launch configuration is very different from the space station retransmission mission launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The launch, which originates from the "Space Coast" country, carries the path of a cargo ship that supplies almost parallel to the US East Coast. But in the Antares case, the launch track will head southeast and on the direct route from the US mainland.
The Cygnus spacecraft for this mission was named S.S. John Young honors former US Navy astronauts and officers. As a NASA astronaut, Young logged 835 hours in a room that participated in six missions: Gemini 3 and 10, Apollo 10 and 16, and STS-1 and 9.
What to expect
Above, you can see a map provided by Northrop Grumman that shows rough times where you can expect to first see Antares after its launch. The diagram shows the time at which the rocket will reach 5 degrees above the horizon, which varies depending on your location. (Five degrees is a cutoff because it is impossible that you will be able to see rockets when they are lower, because of buildings, vegetation and other terrain features.) For example, using this map when observing from New York shows that Antares will reach 5 degrees above the horizon around 150 seconds after launch (+150 seconds).
Antares will be seen for most locations based on the light emanating from the first stage of the craft.
The first stage uses kerosene and liquid oxygen as propellant. Cygnus will be launched into orbit using the Northrop Grumman Antares 230 launch vehicle, which features the RD-181 engine. Antares must appear as a bright star. Observers who use binoculars may also be able to see short contrails. Because the first stage of Antares was liquid fuel, rocket climbing was slower than the solid-fuel Minotaur rocket launched from Wallops in previous years. Antares will discard the first stage after the component consumes all of its fuel, about 3 1/2 minutes after launch. This stage will then be destroyed in the atmosphere and fall into the Atlantic Ocean.
Then, the gliding phase appears after the first phase of the shutdown.
The second stage is a solid fuel rocket, Castor 30. This second stage, together with the Cygnus spacecraft, is put into low Earth orbit. After separating from the second stage, Cygnus will then use his own machine to continue his mission to the space station. The rocket, of course, will not return to Earth; it will continue its ascent, accelerate higher and faster into space.
Where to focus your eyes
- South Carolina / Georgia / Florida: take off to Stage 1 shutdown, especially to the northeast.
- North Carolina / Virginia coast: take off to Stage 1 shutdown, especially to the northeast.
- Virginia / West Virginia Interior: take off to Stage 1 shutdown, especially towards east-southeast.
- Maryland, central / western Pennsylvania: take off to stage 1 shutdown, southeast.
- Delaware, eastern Pennsylvania: take off to stage 1 shutdown, especially south.
- New Jersey / southeast New York: take off to stage 1 shutdown, south-southwest.
- The southern coast of New England and Long Island, NY: take off to Stage 1 shutdown, southwest.
If Thursday's launch is rubbed, Antares will leave about 22 minutes early per day. If, for example, the launch is rubbed on Saturday, at 4:01 am EST (0901 GMT). Every day, the launch window will last for 5 minutes.
The Visitor Center and grounds will be opened on Thursday at 1 am local time to support the fading of Northrop Grumman commercial flights to the International Space Station. "The Visitor Center is located about 4 miles [6 kilometers] from Wallops Island with a clear view of the OA Pad, "according to the Visitor Center web page." Parking spaces and limited seating are available based on who comes first, first-served. Arrive early to ensure space. "
The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge / Assateague National Seashore will be open to watch the launch. See: http://www.chincoteague.com/viewing-rocket-launches.html
Coverage of the live launch will begin on Thursday at 4 am EST on NASA Television and the agency's website. (And you can see it here on Space.com, too, as mentioned above.) Keep in mind that the launch video webcast is sometimes delayed by up to 1 minute.
You can watch the Northrop Grumman Antares rocket launch directly here from NASA TV.
Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at the Hayden New York Planetarium. He writes on astronomy for Natural History magazine, Farmer Almanac, and other publications, and he is also a meteorologist for Verizon FiOS1 News in the Hudson Valley under New York. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. Original article on Space.com.