Watch for Antares Rocket Launching Into Skies Over Virginia

Orbital Sciences Corporation hopes to get its test rocket for a mission to the International Space Station off the ground on Saturday.

After scrubbing the launch of the Antares earlier this week, all systems are go for what could be a spectacular view in the skies over Virginia of a commercial rocket NASA is relying on to resupply the International Space Station. 

The launch of Orbital Sciences Corporation's Antares rocket had been planned for Wednesday from NASA Wallops Flight Facility on coastal Virginia but was scrubbed because of a problem with an external umbilical cord, the company announced on its web site.

“This is the biggest, loudest and brightest rocket ever to launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility,” Orbital Sciences manager Frank Culbertson told a media briefing, according to Universe Today.

Umbilical cords typically supply power and allow flight controllers to monitor a rocket's systems until shortly before launch, when these functions are transferred to the rocket's internal control systems, according to a story in The Christian Science Monitor.

"You learn a little bit form every launch attempt. So we'll take the lessons learned today and move into another launch attempt as soon as it's safe to do so," John Steinmeyer, a senior project manager at Orbital Sciences, told the Monitor.

The company said it would try for launch again no earlier than 5 p.m. Saturday. The rocket should become visible in the southeastern sky between two and three minutes after it lifts off in Virginia.

In Virginia and DC, the rocket is expected to rise no more than 10 degrees above the horizon. That's roughly the height of an adult's fist held at arm's length. If you want to attempt to view the launch, seek an area with a clear view of the southeastern horizon. 

Orbital Sciences has released expected views of Antares from various vantage points in Northern Virginia and DC.

Weather in Oakton at the time of launch will be mostly sunny and around 62 degrees.

To watch the launch live online―or to confirm that it's going forward while you stand outside and look for it― visit Space.com's live stream from NASA TV

Orbital, whose earlier Pegasus rocket was the first privately developed space launch vehicle, has a $1.9 billion deal with NASA to conduct eight unmanned Cygnus resupply trips to the space station. The Cygnus capsule itself is under construction and is scheduled for its first trip to the space station in November, according to Space.com.


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