East Coast viewers may be able to see Saturday's Orbital ATK rocket launch

By Brooks Hays  |  Updated Nov. 10, 2017 at 6:12 PM
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Nov. 10 (UPI) -- If weather conditions cooperate, viewers up and down the East Coast may be able to spot Orbital ATK's Antares rocket, scheduled to launch from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Saturday morning.

The rocket will carry Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft into orbit. Once in orbit, the craft will deliver 7,400 pounds of supplies, equipment and science experiments to the International Space Station.

Saturday's blastoff is scheduled for 7:37am ET.

If the current forecast for exceptionally clear skies along the Eastern Seaboard holds, the rocket launch could be glimpsed as far north as Boston and as far south as South Carolina.

Among the thousands of pounds of supplies are several science experiments, including an experiment designed to measure antibiotic resistance in microgravity. A number of other experiments will explore the science of plant and crop growth in space.

Several experimental CubeSats are also packed inside the Cygnus spacecraft. One of the box-shaped satellites will test a laser-based communications systems designed for small spacecrafts. Another mini satellite will test a hybrid solar power panel and communication solar antenna.

NASA TV will offer coverage of the launch, including a live broadcast of the blastoff and flight, as well as followup coverage and commentary.

As Ars Technica reports, Orbital ATK has failed to keep pace with SpaceX, its main competitor in the private rocket launch industry. SpaceX has launched 16 rockets for missions headed by NASA and other federal agencies. It's also executed 20 launches for private customers.

Saturday's launch will be Orbital ATK's fourth ISS resupply mission. The company has yet to secure a private client for its launch services.

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