From Popular Mechanics
On Thursday, NASA plans to launch an International Space Station Cargo Resupply mission from the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility.
The launch is scheduled for 9:38 p.m. EDT.
If the weather cooperates, the launch could be visible from as far north as Pennsylvania and as far south as North Carolina.
This evening NASA plans to launch a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft, the 14th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station, from NASA’s Wallops Space Flight Facility in Virginia. Launch is scheduled for 9:38 p.m. EDT. A live-stream on NASA TV will begin at shortly before the launch.
If the weather cooperates, space enthusiasts across the East Coast should be able to spot the actual rocket as it soars toward the ISS. The best way to catch sight of the spacecraft is to find a clear, southern-facing patch of sky. Viewers in Washington D.C. should have clear view of the soaring rocket roughly 90 seconds after lift-off. It should be visible to folks in Philadelphia about 1o0 seconds after launch and to the residents of New York City approximately 30 seconds after that.
A whole host of new science experiments are currently packed into the Cygnus capsule, awaiting their debut in microgravity. Among them are radish seeds, which astronauts plan to sow into space station soil upon their arrival. Scientists hope the fast-growing root vegetable will become a staple crop in the microgravity environment.
NASA is also sending the Spectrum-001 camera specially designed to capture images of the plants that the astronauts grow on the space station as well as an instrument designed to melt different types of metal in space. The Saffire-V experiment will help astronauts examine how fire works under different temperature and pressure conditions and will be used to test different types of responses to fire in microgravity.
One of the items set to launch is a brand-spanking-new space toilet. The Universal Waste Management System, as NASA calls it, is un upgraded version of the ISS’s current commode. This high-tech toilet, according to The Verge, is specially designed to be more comfortable for the space station’s female visitors and is smaller and lighter than the current lavatory. A space station toilet isn’t the only loo on NASA’s mind. In June, the agency announced that it would be accepting proposals for toilets designed to operate on the moon.
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Finally, each Cygnus spacecraft is named for an “individual who has played a pivotal role in human spaceflight,” according to Northrop Grumman’s website. In a touching nod to the Columbia space shuttle disaster, the spacecraft launching tonight is named for NASA astronaut Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian-born woman to go to space. Chawla was among the seven astronauts killed when the Columbia space shuttle broke apart upon reentry in 2003.
The spacecraft is expected to reach the ISS on Sunday, at which point NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy will use the station’s robotic arm to grab the capsule and attach it to the docking station.
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