Upcoming 'Antares' Rocket Launch Might Be Visible All Along the U.S. East Coast
That's because the Orbital ATK Antares rocket won't be launching from NASA's typical spot in Cape Canaveral, but will instead be launching from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. As it carries a Cygnus spacecraft full of ISS cargo away from Earth, it'll potentially be visible to the millions of people living along the East Coast of the United States. Weather permitting, of course.
Now, there is a catch: you'll have to wake up early. The launch is scheduled for 4:39 a.m. Eastern time, and will only be visible for a minute or two (depending on where you are) after the launch. So if you're not a morning person, it'll take some effort to see the rocket, but waking up early is still easier than traveling down to Florida for a normal launch.
Heads up East Coast! We are scheduled to launch our #OA9 #Cygnus aboard #Antares from @NASA_Wallops a week from today. Take a look to find out when you'll be able to see the launch from your town. The five-minute window opens at 5:04 am EDT pic.twitter.com/xRNR49oBaq— Orbital ATK (@OrbitalATK) May 13, 2018
If you're actually in Virginia and want to get front row seats, NASA has instructions on how to get to their Wallops visitor center about 4 miles from the launchpad. Otherwise, so long as you're living somewhere along the coast from Massachusetts to South Carolina, you should be able to get a glimpse when it takes off.
Once the Antares launch is finished, the detached Cygnus spacecraft will carry about 7,400 pounds (3,350 kilograms) of science experiments related to cold-atom tests and also related to old-timey sextants (to see if they could be useful during navigation in space). It'll also carry boring stuff like food and clothing for the six astronauts aboard the space station, but you could have guessed that.
So best of luck to anyone who tries to get a view. Hopefully the clouds won't get in the way.