Tomorrow morning, private spaceflight company Orbital ATK will get back to resupplying the International Space Station for NASA, sending up 7,400 pounds of supplies inside its Cygnus cargo capsule. And for this launch, the company is using its own rocket, the Antares, which hasn’t seen any action since last year. The Antares will be taking off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, and those living along the East Coast may be able to get a glimpse of the vehicle after takeoff.
If successful, it’ll be the eighth flight to the ISS for Orbital ATK and the second one the company has done this year. The company’s first mission in April didn’t launch on the Antares, but on top of an Atlas V rocket manufactured by the United Launch Alliance. Last year, NASA had asked Orbital to use the Atlas V instead for the mission, because the rocket can carry more weight into orbit. At the time, NASA had been worried that its other commercial resupplier, SpaceX, might not be available for resupply missions after grounding its flights in the wake of a failure.
But now, resupply missions have been running smoothly again, and the ISS is fully stocked through mid-summer. Orbital will be using its Antares tomorrow to bring even more supplies and science experiments to the six-person crew on the space station. Some of those items include an experiment to test out antibiotic resistance in microgravity, as well as an experimental hybrid solar panel that doubles as a communication antenna.
The launch is scheduled for 7:14AM ET, and if the weather conditions are clear, those living along the East Coast may be able to see the launch if the rising Sun doesn’t get in the way. NASA released the map above to show exactly when the rocket might be visible along the coast. It should only take nine minutes to get the Cygnus to orbit, and the capsule will reach the ISS on Tuesday. NASA’s coverage of the event begins around 7AM ET. Check back then to watch the launch live.
Update November 11th, 7:42AM ET: A plane in the launch range halted the mission a minute and a half before take off on Saturday, which was scheduled for 7:37AM ET. Orbital ATK will try again Sunday at 7:14AM ET.