NASA's next mission to the moon is set to blast off from Virginia's Eastern Shore on Friday (Sept. 6), but if you can't see the launch in person, don't fret. You can watch the rocket soar moonward live online.
The nighttime launch of NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft is currently scheduled for Friday at 11:27 p.m. EDT (0327 Sept. 7 GMT). The mission will lift off from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va., and you can watch its flight thanks to smartphone apps, viewing maps and several agency-sponsored special events.
Weather permitting, the moon dust-tracking probe's launch could be visible to skywatchers along a large swath of the U.S. East Coast. But even if you aren't within the viewing zone, there are other ways to take part in the LADEE (pronounced "laddie") mission festivities throughout the week. [Photos: NASA's LADEE Moon Dust Mission in Pictures]
Here is SPACE.com's guide to getting involved with NASA's newest mission to the moon:
Watch the launch on smartphones and the Internet:
NASA will provide two live webcasts of the launch beginning at 9:30 p.m. EDT (0130 Sept. 7 GMT) via NASA TV. NASA's public and media channels will broadcast live coverage and commentary about the mission while the education channel will host a NASA EDGE webcast about the moon probe.
You can watch the LADEE launch live on SPACE.com here, courtesy of NASA TV.
When it comes to space apps, smartphone users can use the NASA app available for Android and iPhone to watch the launch live. You can find the NASA app here: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/iphone/#.UiYkIzZQF8E
Android smartphone savvy space fans can also download the appropriately named "What's Up at Wallops" app to map out where to look for the Minotaur V rocket carrying LADEE upon its launch. The Wallops app includes a compass to point users in the right direction to view the launch. You can download the What's Up at Wallops App here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=gov.nasa.wff.whatsupatwallops
See LADEE launch from the East Coast:
Observers in Virginia can watch the LADEE moon mission launch from two locations on Friday. Visitors can see the event from Beach Road between Chincoteague and Assateague Islands or Robert Reed Park on Chincoteague not far from the launch site, according to a NASA description.
Both events will feature a live countdown and broadcast of the launch as well as NASA officials on hand to answer questions about the $280 million LADEE mission.
The "What's Up at Wallops" smartphone app and LADEE launch sky maps here can also be used to help observers along the East Coast track and, weather permitting, see the rocket as it launches into space.
Editor's note: If you take an amazing photo of the LADEE launch or any other night sky view that you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, send photos, comments and your name and location to managing editor Tariq Malik at email@example.com.
Follow LADEE on the West Coast:
Space enthusiasts on the West Coast of the United States can also take part in the LADEE festivities. NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., which will oversee LADEE mission operations once the probe launches, will host "NASA Ames Science Night" in honor of the mission.
The Ames LADEE event is scheduled for Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. PDT with the launch expected to occur at 8:27 p.m. PDT. Science Night will at Shenandoah Plaza at NASA Research Park in Moffett Field, Calif.
You can find more LADEE events across the U.S. by checking out NASA's New Moon Toolkit website, where you can also list your own launch event for the moon mission.
NASA launch countdown events:
NASA will host online events counting down to LADEE's moon shot throughout the week.NASA TV will air two back-to-back pre-launch news conferences on Thursday beginning at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) and running until 4:45 p.m. EDT (2045 GMT). The first conference will include information about the weather and outlook for the probe's launch and the second will detail the science objectives for LADEE.
Live media interviews about the LADEE mission, including an interview with SPACE.com, will be webcast on NASA TV on Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. EDT (2000 to 2200 GMT).
SPACE.com partner Spaceflight Now is also providing blow-by-blow coverage of LADEE's mission via the Mission Status Center, which will also include a launch webcast feed.