John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
On Sunday, set your sights east to catch the fiery ascent of a resupply for the International Space Station.
NASA's Cygnus cargo spacecraft has the crucial duty of delivering thousands of pounds of supplies to the International Space Station. But first it has to get into the air, and to that end the space agency has stuck it inside a rocket that will blast off spectacularly on Sunday afternoon*.
At a scheduled launch time of 12:52 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 13*, a hulking Antares rocket (this thing) will rise like Odin's fiery spear from the Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's eastern shore. If the weather is clear, the launch should be visible over a big chunk of the East Coast, including Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, Norfolk, and perhaps even New York. For maximum enjoyment try finding a good vantage point, like the roof of an apartment building or anywhere not west of the Appalachian Mountains. *UPDATE: As of 10 a.m. on Friday, NASA has pushed the launch back to Sunday.
What areas will be within range of sight? Have a look at this map put out by NASA and Orbital Sciences, the company behind the resupply mission:
Please note that if you're not inside the rocket's viewing zone – sorry – NASA probably will not "angle it up a bit so i can see," as per this person's tweet.
For those curious to know a little more about the launch's purpose, it is the second of eight sorties in the Orbital-2 mission to deliver needed goods to the Space Station. Inside the Cygnus cargo craft are provisions, spare parts, and new science experiments for the inquisitive Expedition 40 crew. No word yet if last year's amazing astro-frog will be making a reappearance during this weekend's event: