NASA ISS Rocket Launch Will 'Light Up the Sky' Across the East Coast on Thursday

If you're up (very) early on Thursday and you live on the East Coast, you may catch a glimpse of an impressive sight soaring through the sky.

On November 15, at 4:49 a.m. EST, NASA will launch an Antares rocket from its Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) located at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) on Wallops Island, along Virginia's eastern shore.

Designed by aerospace and defense manufacturer Northup Grumman, the rocket will carry one of the company's Cygnus spacecraft, which was designed to transport supplies to the International Space Station following the retirement of the Space Shuttle.

"An early morning resupply launch to the ISS is going to light up the sky on Nov. 15!" the WFF announced in a Facebook post. "The launch is expected to be visible to much of the East Coast if the skies are clear."

On the day of the launch, the NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will be open from 1 a.m. to members of the public who want to watch. Additional nearby locations to catch the rocket taking off, according to the space agency, are Robert Reed Park on Chincoteague Island or Beach Road, which extends between Chincoteague and Assateague islands. Neither the Assateague Island National Seashore protected area nor the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge will be open for viewing for the launch.

If you're not able to make it to the area, you can still follow proceedings via the Wallops Mission Status Center, which contains information about the mission as well as links to live countdown audio and video of the launch.

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NASA’s Antares rocket is positioned on the launchpad at its Wallops Flight Facility, in Virginia. The rocket will carry one of the company’s Cygnus spacecraft, which was designed to transport supplies to the International Space Station following the retirement of the Space Shuttle. NASA/Wallops Flight Facility

Furthermore, with the help of the "Tracking" feature, you can find out when you might be able to see the rocket in flight, using a smartphone to determine the right viewing direction.

Live coverage of the mission is scheduled to begin at 10:30 p.m., November 14, on the WFF's two Ustream sites.

NASA TV will also be providing coverage of the launch, beginning at 4:15 a.m. EST, and updates will also be posted via the Wallops Facebook and Twitter pages.

The latest mission is Northup Grumman's tenth cargo launch to the ISS under NASA's commercial resupply services contract.

Cygnus will carry around 7,200 pounds of crew supplies and hardware to the space station, including science equipment supporting dozens of research projects.

One investigation, for example, will evaluate a method for producing fiber optic cables in space, while another will examine the formation of "chondrules"—some of the oldest material in the Solar System.

Cygnus is scheduled to arrive at the ISS on November 18, when Expedition 57 Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA and Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency will use the station's robotic arm to "grab" the spacecraft and attach it to the bottom of the Unity module.

The cargo craft will remain docked until February 12, 2019, when it will depart the station and deploy several CubeSats—miniaturized satellites used for space research—before reentering the Earth's atmosphere, burning up in the process.

NASA ISS Rocket Launch Will 'Light Up the Sky' Across the East Coast on Thursday | Tech & Science
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