NASA and Northrop Grumman plan to launch a Cygnus spacecraft Thursday night atop an Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Pad 0A regional spaceport at NASA’s Wallops flight facility on the east coast of Virginia.
Weather permitting, the launch will be visible from the Carolinas to Connecticut. Night launches like these can be easier to see from hundreds of miles from the launch site. Look for a faint point of light that rises from east to northeast as it moves up and right between 9:40 pm and 9:45 pm. tonight.
A clear view of the sky from northeast to east will provide the best view. The darker your skies and the fewer houses, trees, and other clutter on the horizon, the better.
The five-minute startup window opens at 9:38 pm, but you̵
Residents of the upper floors of downtown Raleigh condominiums will also have a good spot for the show.
The latest launch weather forecast shows 70% of the go conditions on the launch site. Here in central North Carolina, the forecast is for mostly clear skies in the mid-1960s around launch time with clouds rising overnight.
Live coverage of the launch will begin at 9pm. EDT and air on NASA television and streaming on the agency’s website. You can also follow the progress of the launch in the Wallops Mission Status Center
What’s on board
The launch will bring 7,758 scientific research, supplies and hardware for astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
- Universal Waste Management System (UWMS): the next generation space toilet. This provides a fully autonomous second microgravity compatible toilet for the crew aboard the ISS, the same design as the Orion capsule.
- Crew Emergency Breathing Air Assembly (CEBAA): Emergency air supply for up to five crew members in the event of an emergency such as an ammonia leak.
- New Acrylic Dome Scratch Panel: This upgraded side trapezoidal panel will provide improved optics for the crew when using the dome.
- Common Communication Data Converter for Visiting Vehicles (C2V2): Hardware enabling software upgrade used for the variety of cargo and crew pods that dock with the ISS
- Load block functional hardware: fan, battery and consumable to support scheduled maintenance in orbit. Crews spend much of their time cleaning and maintaining the ISS.
- Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) Hardware Replacements: Spare parts including straps, pulleys, and a spare bench cover for crew exercise equipment. The crew schedule includes significant time spent exercising to prevent loss of bone and muscle during orbit.
In addition to the standard menu and crew-specific food containers, NASA shared the list of fresh and stable food required by the crew included in the cargo:
Garlic, apples, baby carrots, grapefruit, oranges, cherry tomatoes, brie, ham, chorizo, cranberries covered with dark chocolate, Genoa salami, hot chocolate, praline pecans, smoked gouda, smoked provolone, summer sausage and morsels.
After flight experiments
Cygnus will remain attached for about three months when he is detached from the station and moves on to his extended mission.
- Spacecraft Fire Safety (Saffire): The fourth in a series of studies on how fire behaves in microgravity conditions, intended to help develop procedures for crews to better manage fire emergencies in space.
- SharkSat: to Ka-Band Software Defined Radio, a pathfinder for technologies with 5G applications, advanced satellite communications
Northrop Grumman announced in September that the spacecraft would be named for NASA astronaut Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian-born woman to enter space. Chawla was lost along with her six crewmates in 2003 during the STS-107 mission when the Space Shuttle Columbia did not survive its return to Earth.