Nov. 19 (UPI) -- NASA will launch a U.S. Air Force Minotaur I rocket, from the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, carrying with it a payload of 13 tiny, cube-shaped satellites.
The rocket will attempt to place these satellites in space, including a smartphone and small satellites built by high school students in 25 states as a part of NASA's CubeSat Launch initiative.
Atmospheric conditions permitting, the launch should be visible from northern Florida to southern Canada and west to Indiana. The launch time will be between 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.
This launch is part of the Air Force's Operationally Responsive Space Office's ORS-3 mission. Known as an enabler mission, it will help NASA and the Air Force validate launch and range improvements. The launch will also be part of the Federal Aviation Administration's certification process of the Minotaur I rocket. The FAA has licensing power over commercial rockets in the U.S.
The rocket's main payload is the Space Test Program Satellite-3. Along with it are 13 cubesats from the CubeSat Launch initiative.The initiative aims to attract and increase students' interest in the sciences.
The tiny cubesats are nanosatellites approximately four inches long, have a volume of about one quart and weigh about 3 pounds. For students' cubesats to be accepted, their research should address aspects of science, exploration, technology development, education or operations.
The live stream of the launch can be viewed here via NASA.