NASA rocket launch Monday may be visible over NJ
New Jerseyans in some parts of the state may be able to catch a glimpse of a rocket after it launches from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia Monday night. The launch was originally scheduled for Sunday, but has been delayed.
According to NASA, the commercial provider Orbital ATK is scheduled to launch its sixth mission to the International Space Station at 7:40 p.m. Monday. New Jerseyans should look to the south-southwest for what will appear to be a bright, moving star.
NASA officials say the launch was delayed 24 hours "due to a ground support equipment (GSE) cable that did not perform as expected during the pre-launch check out. We have spares on hand and rework procedures are in process." If the forecast holds true, people from South Carolina up to Massachusetts may be able to catch a glimpse of the launch.
The Antares rocket will launch a Cygnus spacecraft that will be carrying almost 5,100 pounds of cargo to the International Space Station.
Cygnus will be supplying supplies to the crew of the ISS that will be used "to support dozens of science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 49 and 50." The cargo also includes supplies for the astronauts and vehicle hardware. NASA says the experiments include studies on fire in space as well as the effects lighting has on sleep patterns and other health-related analysis.
Monday's launch can also be viewed live at NASA TV.
The launch was originally scheduled for Thursday, NASA said in a statement. However, NASA delayed the takeoff twice - once due to contingency plans resulting from Hurricane Matthew, and again due to Hurricane Nicole, which is churning in the Atlantic and impacting the agency's support operations in Bermuda.
Monday's planned launch will be the first Antares rocket mission to take off from Wallops Island since October of 2014, when a rocket exploded on the launch pad. The cause of the explosion was determined to be related to problems with the engine. In preparation for the current mission, the Antares was recently fitted with new engines, that were tested and approved in May, according to NASA.
The Cygnus spacecraft has been dubbed the S.S. Alan Poindexter, as a tribute to a space shuttle veteran who flew on two missions to the International Space Station, one as a shuttle commander. NASA says Poindexter died in an accident in July 2012.
Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.