Orbital Sciences Corp are getting ready to launch another Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus resupply ship to the International Space Station. The spacecraft is on-board the rocket, the rocket is on the pad and, as of this writing, is 98% GO for Monday night’s launch out of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. Launch is scheduled for 6:45pm EDT.
It’s looking like we’ll have clear skies here in Maryland and should be in for a pretty good show. As always, NASA and Orbital have provided some viewing guides to help you spot the launch.
Get the app & know where to look
An even better resource is to get What’s Up at Wallops mobile app which will point you in the direction towards the launch pad at Wallops. The app is available for Android and Apple iOS.
While you’re at it, be sure to get the free NASA TV apps for Android and Apple iOS as well. Use these apps to monitor the countdown while you’re heading outside to look. Bear in mind that the streaming to your phone is usually delayed by up to a full minute so don’t count on it for true “real-time” information.
Make sure you can get a clear line of sight to the southeastern horizon. Since this is night launch, you should be able to spot a rapidly moving “star” emerging from the southeast and heading further toward the east. You should be able to see the first stage’s exhaust plume and maybe even see the first stage separation and second stage ignition. To give you a rough idea of the shape of the arc as seen from Maryland, here is a Google Earth mockup of the launch from Baltimore:
And for my Physics students, here is a simulation from Towson University:
And finally, here’s one for my friends & family in the Philly/Springfield PA area:
And here’s a map that shows the approximate amount of time that will pass after liftoff and when you should be able to start seeing the rocket:
Orbital Sciences Corp have some additional viewing maps for Orb-3 that show simulated views from Washington DC, Delaware, and Virginia. If you have Google Earth, you can download the .kmz file and view the launch path from your location. For some viewing tips, I’ll refer you to a previous post of a similar ISS resupply mission. Good luck and Go Antares/Cygnus!