NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Virginia Coast, near Chincoteague Island, is preparing for two rocket launches in the coming days. The first is tomorrow, where a sounding rocket is due to lift-off in the evening. The second and larger launch is currently scheduled for November 2, where an Antares rocket will launch to bring the Cygnus cargo craft to the International Space Station.
Called Suborbital Technology Experiment Carrier-8 or SubTec-8, the first launch is designed to test new technologies to improve the capability of conducting suborbital science missions. The launch window for this mission is anytime between 8pm to midnight tomorrow night with back-up launch days of October 23-27 should a delay become necessary. If the weather cooperates, the launch could be visible in the Chesapeake Bay region but not beyond it. Guests can view it in-person at the Wallops NASA Visitor Center which will open at 7pm for launch viewing; NASA Wallops also plans to stream coverage of the launch starting at 7:45pm on their Facebook page.
SubTec-8 will fly on a Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket and is predicted to reach an altitude of 128 miles before descending by parachute and landing in the Atlantic Ocean.
“The first SubTec launch occurred in 2005. The technology developed and tested through the program has allowed scientists to continue conducting complex missions with increasing capabilities,” said Cathy Hesh, technology manager for the sounding rocket program office at Wallops.
A much larger rocket is due to lift-off from Wallops on the morning of Saturday, November 2. With a launch window that opens at 9:59am, the larger rocket launch should be visible across a large portion of the Mid Atlantic if the weather cooperates. While not as stunning as a nighttime launch, the accelerating rocket should streak across the morning sky from New Jersey to North Carolina. Northrop Grumman is launching their Antares rocket for the 13th Cygnus cargo freighter on the 12th operational cargo delivery flight to the International Space Station. Known as Mission NG-12, the rocket will fly in the Antares 230 configuration, with two RD-181 first stage engines and a Castor 30XL second stage.
The last launch of the Antares rocket at NASA Wallops occurred last spring in April that mission, the NG-11, brought 7.600 pounds of science and supplies to the ISS. It lifted off from Pad 0A on April 17 at 4:46pm ET; the NG-12 mission will use the same launch pad.