On the East Coast of the U.S.? You can see NASA’s next rocket launch
Space is cool! The world was fascinated with the concept of space travel for a while when the original space race was taking place, but interest died down in the years after. Now it’s at the point where public school classes don’t even bother to mention the fact we’ve had people living in space on a space station for twenty years.
However, interest in outer space is picking back up. A new era of commercial space travel and the idea that we really can send people to Mars has renewed humanity’s sense of curiosity & desire for exploration when it comes to the big black void our planet floats through.
If you’re one of the people who thinks all things space are super cool, then you may be interested to know that residents along the Eastern Coast of the United States may be able to watch the upcoming NASA launch.
About the rocket launch
The launch will be of an unmanned craft – specifically a Grumman Cygnus craft. The Cygnus is an expendable cargo spacecraft, meaning it’s used once and it’s done. (For the curious “cygnus” means is a Greek word for “swan” and also refers to a constellation in the night sky).
For years the International Space Station has been receiving resupply from Russian crafts, but NASA has been partnering with commercial companies in order to get back in on the action – this launch is part of that effort.
The launch will be taking place at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. This rocket launch site, owned by NASA, is on the eastern shore of the state. So, while most launches take place in Florida, this launch isn’t for them this time.
How to see it
Provided the weather conditions are right, it’s believed that most of the East Coast in the U.S. should be able to spot the rocket in the night sky. 90 seconds after the launch it should be visible in Washington D.C. and 150 seconds after launch it should be able to be spotted in New York City.
Any areas directly between these points should hopefully also be able to spot the Cygnus craft – provided clouds don’t get in the way.
The craft, which is actually named the SS Kaplana Chawla won’t arrive at the space station until October 4, at which point the station’s robotic arm will grab it and install it into the station. The Cygnus style craft is named after the NASA astronaut who died in the Columbia disaster.
What’s on the craft?
The spacecraft is going to be taking approximately 8,000 pounds of material to the ISS. This will include crew supplies, research, and hardware. Among these items a new titanium space toilet is also expected to be in the shipment. The new toilet is meant to be an improvement upon the current one and should also be “more accommodating” for female astronauts.
Once the Cygnus has reached the space station it will remain attached until mid-December, at which point it will be loaded with trash from the ISS and sent back to Earth where it will burn up in the atmosphere. A very efficient disposal system, if we do say so ourselves.
The craft is also planned to take part in a Spacecraft Fire Safety Experiment. The experiment is designed to study flame growth and the limits of flammability in space. Once the craft has departed the space station the experiment will be ignited, but this will be done before it enters the Earth’s atmosphere.
The results will hopefully inform NASA more on how fire acts in outer space.
Do you think you’ll be able to catch the launch? Do you love everything space-related too? Let us know in the comments below!