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The Northeastern United States Gets To See a Rocket Launch Today

At 5 p.m. today, a huge rocket will blast off from a base in Virginia

Usually, residents of Florida and California have a leg up over the rest of the country when it comes to one of America’s most favorite past times: watching rockets soar into the sky. But in the early evening today, the Northeast coast will be treated to a special show. At around 5 p.m., from Maine to South Carolina, look up in the sky and you just may see the brand new Antares rocket climbing into the sky on its maiden voyage as it blasts off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.

Wallops has seen launches before, in 2006 and 2007, but the Antares launch, says Universe Today, will be “the biggest, loudest and brightest rocket ever to launch” from the site. CBS News:

“We’ll lift off with approximately 750,000 pounds of thrust, weighing about 600,000 pounds,” said Frank Culbertson, a former shuttle commander who oversees Orbital’s advanced programs group. “So it’ll not race off the pad, but it will accelerate very quickly once it gets going.

 

The launch will appear lower on the horizon the further you are from Virginia. Photo: Orbital Sciences Corporation

For those not in the northeast, or if clouds mar your view, NASA will be streaming the show live starting at 4 pm.

The Antares rocket is a huge machine, a two-stage booster rocket that stands 131 feet tall, says Space.com. The rocket is designed to carry cargo to the International Space Station, and will be the first direct competitor of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket in the burgeoning private space race. This evening’s launch will be the rocket’s first.

According to CBS News, the weather may not play nicely with Orbital Science Corp’s test. If the launch is scrubbed, they’ll have openings to try again through the end of the week.

More from Smithsonian.com:

SpaceX Launches the First Commercial Rocket Into Space
Elon Musk, the Rocket Man With a Sweet Ride

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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