All systems were go at press time Tuesday for the next Antares rocket to blast off from Virginia’s spaceport on a mission for NASA to the International Space Station.
Barring unfavorable weather, equipment failure or a boater straying into the launch zone, Northrop Grumman’s 11th commercial resupply mission to the ISS should lift off at 4:46 p.m. Wednesday.
The launch offers an eyeful not only for Hampton Roads, but up and down the Mid-Atlantic and as far west as West Virginia.
The rocket was rolled out to the launch pad at NASA Wallops Flight Facility early Monday and hoisted into position, its Cygnus cargo spacecraft packed with nearly 7,600 pounds of payload.
Resupply missions carry crew supplies, vehicle hardware and science experiments to the orbiting laboratory, where microgravity provides a unique platform for research.
This particular mission includes studies of treatments for chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, the impacts of microgravity on human systems, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and cheap but efficient free-flying robots.
Also onboard are three nano-satellites — about 4 inches cubed and 3 pounds in weight — developed by four Virginia colleges: Old Dominion University, Hampton University, the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech. The CubeSats are designed to measure the atmosphere during orbital decay.
NASA TV will offer a live-stream of the launch beginning at 4:15 p.m. at nasa.gov/nasatv.
The Visitor Center at NASA Wallops on Route 175 is set to open noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday for onsite viewing. NASA recommends arriving at least three hours before big launches. Parking is first come, first served.