Countdown Underway; Weather now 90% Favorable for Antares Launch

The countdown is underway for this morning’s 5:50 a.m. EST launch window of NASA commercial resupply provider Northrop Grumman‘s Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft. Weather is now 90% favorable for the launch of this resupply mission to the International Space Station. 

For those who’d like to follow along with the count early, live video and control room chatter is now airing on NASA Wallops’ IBM Cloud Video. Live coverage of the launch with commentary will air on NASA Television, the agency’s website and the NASA app beginning at 5:50 a.m. EST. 

The five-minute launch window opens at 5:50 a.m. EST, with liftoff taking place from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of the state. 

The NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will be open for this launch. Gates open at 3:30 a.m. EST. 

Viewing locations on Chincoteague Island include Robert Reed Park on Main Street or Beach Road spanning the area between Chincoteague and Assateague Islands. The beach at the Assateague Island National Seashore/Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge will NOT be open during the launch. 

Map of the Mid-Atlantic region. The land is green and the ocean is dark blue. Visibility area for viewers with a line-of-sight 150-180 seconds after launch is an orange semi-circle reaching from Massachusetts through Pennsylvania and to South Carolina. Visibility from 120-150 seconds is indicated by an aqua semi-circle from Connecticut to North Carolina. Visibility from 90-120 seconds is indicated by a bright pink semi-circle from New Jersey to the northern part of North Carolina. Visibility from 60-90 seconds is indicated by a bright yellow semi-circle from Pennsylvania to Virginia. Cities pinned inside this semi-circle are Richmond, Washington, Dover, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. There is a smaller, bright green semi-circle on the coast between Richmond and Dover that indicates line-of-sight viewing from 30-60 seconds after launch. Innermost part of the semi-circle is blue and labeled the “launch site.”
A map of the mid-Atlantic region showing how many seconds after launch the Antare vehicle may be visible in the sky.

Each resupply mission to the station delivers scientific investigations in the areas of biology and biotechnology, Earth and space science, physical sciences, and technology development and demonstrations. 

This Cygnus is loaded with more than 8,200 pounds of research, crew supplies, and hardware. Research investigations launching to the orbiting laboratory aboard this Cygnus include: 

  • a facility to advance 3D biological printing of human tissue in space 
  • a study taking advantage of microgravity to better understand catastrophic mudflows that can occur after wildfires 
  • Uganda and Zimbabwe’s first satellites developed as a part of the BIRDS program, an interdisciplinary project for non-space faring countries 
  • an investigation into how microgravity influences ovary function 
  • an experiment that studies if changes space-grown plants undergo to adapt to microgravity can be transmitted through seeds to the next generation 

Cargo resupply from U.S. companies ensures a national capability to deliver critical science research to the space station, significantly increasing NASA’s ability to conduct new investigations at the only laboratory in space.