Tonight, Orbital ATK will launch its Antares rocket again — nearly two years after the vehicle’s last launch ended in a spectacular explosion. Since then, the Antares has gone through an extensive upgrade, as the vehicle’s main engines have been replaced. Now, Orbital is finally ready to get back to launching the Antares to the International Space Station for NASA.
Ironically, many of the capsule's experiments revolve around the study of fire
Situated on top of the Antares is Orbital’s Cygnus cargo capsule, filled with food, supplies, and science experiments for the crew of the ISS. Ironically, many of its experiments revolve around the study of fire and combustion in space. The Cool Flames experiment, for instance, will look at fires that burn at low temperatures in microgravity — research that could help engineers develop new space propulsion systems. And the Cygnus will be carrying the second Saffire experiment, a project that will study how nine different materials catch and spread fire in space.
The flight was originally supposed to take place on Sunday, but NASA delayed the launch after ground support cable didn't work like it was supposed to. Orbital had spare cables, though, and was reworking the issue yesterday.
For now, liftoff of the Antares is scheduled for 7:40PM ET from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Weather is looking good, too, with a 95 percent chance of favorable conditions, according to Orbital. And if you’re near the US East Coast, you may have a shot to the see the rocket as it climbs into space. NASA released a viewing map, showing where people may be able to get a glimpse of the launch. See if you’re in a prime viewing location below.
The elevation at which the Antares rocket will appear above the horizon for those on the East Coast. According to NASA, "a viewer in Pittsburgh would not expect to see the rocket appear higher in the sky than five degrees above the horizon (about the width of three fingers held at arm’s length)." (NASA)
The amount of time after launch people on the coast will be able to see the Antares. (NASA)
Update October 16th 2:10PM ET: NASA announced that the launch will be postponed until October 17th at 7:40PM EDT due to a "ground support equipment (GSE) cable that did not perform as expected during the pre-launch check out."