While most US rocket launches lift-off from California or Florida and are carried on TV or online, many in the Mid Atlantic will be able to watch the scheduled launch (Monday, October 17, 2016 at 7:40pm) by simply looking up outside.
Orbital ATK will be sending their Antares Launch Vehicle into space, launching their Cygnus cargo craft which will eventually deliver supplies to the International Space Station in the days ahead. The launch will occur at NASA Wallops Spaceport located on the coast of Virginia. The Mid Atlantic launch will be visible across a large part of the eastern US.
The best place to watch the launch will be from NASA Wallop’s visitor center located between the primary base and Chincoteague Island. The Visitor Center is located on Route 175, six miles east of US-13 and five miles west of Chincoteague Island. It is a 60-minute drive south from Salisbury and Ocean City, MD and a 90-minute drive north from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Since the Visitor Center has no physical address, you might find it easier to locate us using the GPS coordinates N 37°56.359′ W 75°27.398′. During launches, a limited number of parking spots and viewing areas are available for those that want to see America launch into space.
While the immediate area around the base offers great light and sound from the launch, people far away from the launch can watch it in the night sky. Orbital ATK has prepared a variety of maps to help people see where they should look; they’ve also developed a series of computer simulated views to show you what the rocket would look like under ideal viewing conditions. The best viewing conditions are away from light pollution and clouds.
It will take some time for the rocket to be viewable above your horizon in your area; the further you are away, the longer it’ll take to view. The color bar map shows just how long you’ll need to wait. But don’t worry -you won’t need to wait long. Those in the light blue area near Philadelphia, Washington, and the northern Outer Banks of North Carolina will just need to wait 90 seconds after launch to view it. But it’ll be worth the wait: the rocket will appear to zoom across the horizon. Curious what it’ll look like? Orbital ATK has prepared a handful of simulated views for places around the Eastern US.
Wherever you are, you should look in the direction of the white line on the colorful map; this illustrates the projected path of the Antares rocket. For most people, this will be to your east; for some, it could be southeast, for others that could be northeast. The rocket will be moving up and out over the Atlantic Ocean.
If you’re not on the east coast within the colored areas, are dealing with light pollution or clouds, another sure-bet place to watch the launch is on NASA TV. You can watch NASA TV on any internet-enabled/connected device, including your smartphone. The link to NASA TV is here: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/ . NASA TV will also broadcast special content about the launch before and after lift-off.
If you’re following along in social media, the hashtag for this launch on Twitter is #OA5 which is the mission identification number for this launch.