Residents of the East Coast don’t need to flock to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to catch a glimpse of the next big rocket launch; actually, large population centers in the Mid Atlantic don’t even need to leave their homes. On November 11 at 7:37am, Orbital ATK will launch their Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Virginia Coast and the launch should be visible for many by simply looking outside in cloud-free skies.
Orbital ATK is launching their Cygnus cargo craft to resupply the International Space Station. Their Antares rocket is scheduled to lift off from pad 0A at Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia. The Cygnus spacecraft will carry crew supplies, scientific research and hardware to the orbiting laboratory to support the Expedition 53 and 54 crews for the eighth contracted mission by Orbital ATK under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.
While a night time launch is generally easy to spot in clear dark skies, many should be able to view the rocket lifting up into the morning sky over the Mid Atlantic. As long as the weather cooperates, those from New Jersey to North Carolina should be treated to the best view. After lifting off from the launch pad in Virginia, the Antares rocket will carry Cygnus up and over the Atlantic Ocean. A map released by Orbital ATK shows the flight path of the rocket; to view it, you should orient yourself in the direction of where the rocket will travel. North of the launch site, in places like southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, you should look to the southeast to see the rocket. In Virginia and southern Maryland, look east to see the rocket. To see the rocket in North Carolina, look north and east up the coast.
For a closer view of the rocket launch, NASA’s Wallops Visitors Center will be open for viewing. The Visitor Center launch viewing area consists of two bleachers and an open field with unobstructed views out to the launch area which is roughly 4 miles away. Parking is available on a first come, first served basis; it is recommended to arrive 3 or more hours prior to the launch window. The Visitors Center plans to open at 3:30am on launch day. For this large scale mission, NASA’s Visitors center warns:
- NO pets are permitted on the Visitor Center grounds with exception of service animals.
- NO coolers are permitted on the Visitor Center grounds.
- NO tents are permitted on the Visitor Center grounds.
- NO RV’s are permitted to park at the Visitor Center on the day of the launch.
- NO oversized vehicles (that do not fit in a standard parking lot space) will be permitted to park at the Visitor Center on the day of the launch.
- All buses and large vans must call a minimum of 48 hours prior to the beginning of a launch window to reserve parking lot space. If your group does not give advanced notice you will NOT be permitted to park at the Visitor Center on the day of the launch. Please call 757.824.2298 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a bus or large van space.
The launch will also be broadcast on TV and online on NASA TV. A Weatherboy meteorologist will also be on-sight to provide launch coverage and commentary on FacebookLive at http://facebook.com/theWeatherboy