17 April 2013

Antares Launch To Be Visible To Millions This Week

Posted by Dan Satterfield

From NASA and Orbital. The NASA Wallops Island Launch facility is about to see a big launch.

Orbital will attempt to launch the Antares rocket from the NASA Wallops Island facility Wednesday at 5 PM. The location of the launch means that millions will have the chance of seeing something that is usually only visible to those in Florida, or near Vandenberg AFB in California. The map below shows how high above the horizon the Antares vehicle will appear as it heads to space.

Image from NASA. Click for full resolution.

Orbital Science hopes to use this same type of rocket to send a payload to the ISS in August, so this is the beginning of a new era for Wallops.

4 km WRF model showing clouds and estimated radar at 5 PM Wed. This model seems to do quite well over Delmarva with these type of fronts.

This launch may be delayed however, because a weak cool front will sink down across the Delmarva Peninsula on Wednesday, and bring some clouds and spotty showers to the area. Since this is a test launch, the Orbital folks will want good images of the climb to space. If a cloud deck is present this will not be possible, so I think we may very well see a delay. The window is 3 hours long from 5PM to 8 PM EDT, so that does improve the chances a bit. The weather does look much better on Thursday, and I will be at the NASA viewing site 2.25 miles from the pad.

Look for pics after the launch!