On the evening of September 29, people as far away as Maine and Georgia may be able to view a rocket launching from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility spaceport on the coast of Virginia. The rocket is due to launch 10:27 pm, making the rocket launch that much more visible in the dark night sky.
Being launched is the Northrop Grumman Antares rocket which stands at 139 feet tall. Topped with the Cygnus cargo craft, this launch will be Northrop Grumman’s 14th commercial resupply services mission to deliver NASA science investigations, supplies and equipment to the International Space Station.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will not be open for this mission and people are discouraged from going out in groups to watch the launch in-person. However, the launch could be visible across a large part of the the U.S. East Coast if the weather and light pollution cooperate.
NASA TV will carry the launch with special coverage beginning at 10 pm.
This mission, known as NG CRS-14, is an uncrewed launch which will bring food, supplies, and science to the International Space Station. Experiments tied to this launch include:
- Assessment of Nutritional Value and Growth Parameters of Space-grown Plants (Plant Habitat-02), which will cultivate radishes in the Advanced Plant Habitat facility as a model plant that is nutritious and edible. The ability to reliably grow nutritionally-valuable food crops in space which will be critical for NASA’s human exploration of the Moon and Mars.
- The Universal Waste Management System (UWMS) that will demonstrate the technology for a compact toilet for astronauts to use on deep-space exploration missions.
- The Leveraging Microgravity to Screen Onco-selective Messenger RNAs for Cancer Immunotherapy (Onco-Selectors) investigation to leverage microgravity to test a biologic drug that could be used for the treatment of leukemia.
- An investigation from the University of Puerto Rico to test oxidation of ammonia in microgravity as a potential means of producing water and energy for future long-term space missions
- A 360 degree virtual reality camera from Montreal-based film studio Felix & Paul, which is set to be taken outside the space station to capture a spacewalk in cinematic virtual reality
Northrop Grumman and SpaceX share launch responsibilities for getting cargo to the International Space Station. SpaceX launches their Dragon cargo capsules from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida while Northrop Grumman uses the NASA Wallops facility on the coast of Virginia to launch their Cygnus spacecraft.