In Brief

Yes Virginia, You Do Have Rocket Launches

Antares Rocket on Launch Pad
Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket stands on the launch pad about one hour before scheduled launch at 4:00 pm EDT on April 17, 2013, at Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, VA. (Image credit: NASA TV)

(UPDATE: Orbital Sciences' first Antares rocket is now set to launch on Saturday, April 20, at 5 p.m. ET. Watch It Live) WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. —When you think of American rocket launches, it's a safe bet that Florida and space shuttles and moon shots come to mind. But some folks might be surprised to know that rockets have been blasting off from Virginia's Eastern Shore for years.

Right now, I am about 2 miles away from a brand-new rocket — Orbital Sciences' Antares — waiting for what promises to be a spectacular launch. To my untrained eye, it feels like an amazing day. The sun is out, there's a light breeze and, except for the mosquitoes, it could be a great day for a rocket launch. Officials are keeping an eye on high-altitude clouds. That's all Orbital's worrying about right now. If all goes well, this 13-story rocket will launch out over the Atlantic Ocean and head southeast. If you live on the East Coast between Maine and South Carolina, there's a chance you might be able to see the rocket soar spaceward, according to Orbital Sciences. To see what the rocket launch might look like where you are, check out these photo simulations.

NASA's Wallops Flight Facility here at the southern tip of Wallops Island was founded in 1945 as a center for aeronautical research and has launched something like 16,000 small sounding rockets during NASA's tenure. In case you missed it, NASA scientists at Wallops launched an absolutely spectacular suborbital rocket flight on Jan. 29. That rocket launch painted the night sky red by releasing a chemical in the upper atmosphere as part of a science experiment. [See photo of NASA painting the night sky red]

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.