Florida doesn’t have the only ‘Space Coast.’ At least, not tonight. Millions of folks living from about Charleston to Boston will get a rare glimpse of a rocket soaring to the International Space Station tonight.
Orbital ATK’s upgraded Antares rocket is finally scheduled to get off the ground tonight at 7:40 pm ET. Hurricane Nicole put a stop to the original launch date as NASA had to batten down the hatches at its tracking site in Bermuda.
A faulty cable prevented last night’s launch from going. Barring any technical issues, tonight’s launch should occur without a hitch. Weather forecasts show a 95% chance of good weather according to officials.
How to watch tonight’s rocket launch
You’re going to need two things. Clear weather and a clear view of the horizon.
The closer you are to Wallops flight facility in Virginia, the better. Here’s a map showing who can see it and how high the rocket will be in the night’s sky.
The further you are away, the harder it will be to see. Those in the five or ten degree areas will want a completely unobstructed view of the horizon. The beach would be perfect. But any elevated area or flat area will do.
The next image shows when East Coasters will be able to first spot the rocket.
Like I said, the closer you are to the launch site the better. Still, several densely populated areas (especially the Hampton Roads area) should have a good view of tonight’s launch.
Because the resupply mission was delayed tonight, the crewmembers will actually dock first on Friday.
The Cygnus resupply capsule will deliver more than 5,000 pounds of experiments and supplies to the ISS on Sunday.
Some of these experiments won’t actually make it to the station. Saffire-II will purposefully set off a large-scale fire inside the empty Cygnus capsule after it leaves the ISS. It’s the second in a series of experiments remotely operated inside a 3 x 5 foot module.
“Saffire seeks to answer two questions,” says David Urban, principal investigator. “Will an upward spreading flame continue to grow or will microgravity limit the size? Secondly, what fabrics and materials will catch fire and how will they burn?”
Saffire isn’t the only fire-related experiment headed to the ISS. Cool Flames will help scientists develop new engines and fuels that are more efficient and do less damage to the environment.
Tonight’s live NASA coverage kicks off at 6:45 pm ET. If you want to watch the next three crewmembers head to the ISS on Wednesday, you’ll need to set the alarm clock. Coverage for that launch begins at 3:15 am ET with launch at 4:05 am ET.