Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How to Watch Antares Rocket Launch Tonight - and Also See Space Station

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How to Watch Antares Rocket Launch Tonight - and Also See Space Station

Article excerpt

Orbital Sciences' third formal cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) is set for launch early Monday evening, with the potential to provide people along the Eastern Seaboard with one part of a spectacular celestial show, weather permitting.

The launch is slated for 6:45 p.m. EDT from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Virginia's Wallops Island. Forecasters anticipate a 98 percent chance that the weather will be just fine for the launch.

It's "the first time I've ever seen a 98 percent chance of go" from a forecaster, said former NASA astronaut Frank Culbertson Jr., now executive vice president and general manager of the company's advanced programs group, during a pre-launch briefing on Sunday.

Up and down the East Coast, forecasters are calling for partly cloudy or mostly clear skies, allowing people from the Carolinas to southeastern Massachusetts to see portions of the ascent of Orbital's Antares resupply rocket. About five minutes after Antares lifts off, the space station itself will become visible - rising from the west-northwest to trace an easterly arc over a crescent moon, with Mars close on its heels as the moon and the red planet set.

Orbital's Cygnus cargo capsule is scheduled to rendezvous with the space station on Sunday.

Ordinarily, cargo missions that Orbital Sciences and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) loft for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration arrive at the station two to three days after launch. Cygnus, however, will have to loiter for several days some 370 to 740 miles behind the station - a testament to how busy the space station has become.

On Saturday, SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule left the station for a Pacific splashdown after arriving at the station Sept. 23. A European cargo craft, an automated transfer vehicle (ATV), is berthed at the station. A Russian Progress resupply capsule was slated to leave the station Monday, with another scheduled to arrive Wednesday. And the station currently has two Russian Soyuz crew capsules docked to it. …

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