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The NASA launch could be visible along much of the east coast



NASA’s Cygnus launch on the International Space Station this week could be visible along much of the east coast, depending on the weather.

An unmanned Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft will be launched Thursday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on one of the company’s Antares rockets. The launch, postponed from Tuesday due to unfavorable weather, will take place no earlier than 21:38. EDT on Thursday, according to the space agency.

If weather conditions allow, the rocket will be visible in Washington, D.C., 90 seconds after launch and in New York City 150 seconds after takeoff, NASA says.

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NASA said the spacecraft will be loaded with nearly 8,000 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware. Space.com reports that a new space toilet is among the items being transported to the space station.

Northrop Grumman's Antares rocket, with the Cygnus refueling spacecraft on board, is launched from Pad-0A on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at NASA's Wallops flight facility in this black and white infrared photograph.

Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket, with the Cygnus refueling spacecraft on board, is launched from Pad-0A on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at NASA’s Wallops flight facility in this black and white infrared photograph.
(Credits: NASA / Bill Ingalls)

The Cygnus spacecraft, named SS Kalpana Chawla, in honor of the NASA astronaut who died in the Columbia disaster, is expected to arrive at the orbiting space laboratory on October 4. “NASA Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy will face Cygnus and Roscosmos Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner will act as backup,” NASA explained in a statement. “After Cygnus is captured, Mission Control in Houston will send commands to the ground for the station’s robotic arm to rotate and install it on the bottom of the station’s Unity module.”

Cygnus will leave the space station in mid-December. “After departure, the Saffire-V experiment will be conducted before Cygnus deorbits and disposes of several tons of waste during a fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere about two weeks later,” NASA said in its statement.

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Spacecraft Fire Safety Experiments (Saffire) are designed to study flame growth and flammability limits of materials in space. “The experiments are started in a Cygnus cargo vehicle after it has completed its main refueling mission of the International Space Station, left the station and before its expected destructive return to Earth,” explains the space agency, on its site. web.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers




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