WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. — A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket will launch over 4 tons of strange science and critical crew supplies to the International Space Station this weekend, and you can watch live online.
On Saturday (Nov. 2) at 9:59 a.m. EDT (1359 GMT), the Cygnus NG-12 spacecraft will launch from Virginia Space's Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility to the International Space Station. The craft will be carrying about 8,200 lbs. (3,700 kilograms) of scientific experiments, hardware and supplies for the astronauts on the space station.
One particular scientific investigation launching has garnered a lot of attention (opens in new tab): cookies! An idea sparked and developed by Zero G Kitchen and further developed and built with NanoRacks, the first-ever space oven is launching with this mission and astronauts on the space station will use it to cook a chocolate chip cookie in space — a world’s first.
"What are we actually going to see when this happens?" Mary Murphy, the senior internal payloads manager at NanoRacks, told Space.com at a pre-launch science briefing on Nov. 1. "We really don’t know," she added. Because the cookie won't be baking with gravity against a cookie sheet as it would on Earth, it could turn out to be cylindrical or even spherical.
This launch was previously set to take place on Oct. 21 but was rescheduled to match "the expected departure at the end of October of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's HTV-8 cargo vehicle and other activities at the space station," NASA spokesperson Keith Koehler of the Wallops Flight Facility told Space.com.
The mission, known as NG-12 or CRS-12, will fly as part of Northrop Grumman's Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA. This will be the first Cygnus launch as part of the second phase of the CRS flights; NASA awarded the contract for this phase in 2016.
The Cygnus spacecraft will launch aboard the private Antares rocket. The craft is named the SS Alan Bean after the astronaut who flew with both the Apollo program and Skylab. On Bean's Apollo 12 flight, he additionally became the fourth person to walk on the moon. Bean passed away last year on May 26, 2018 at 86, having led a life rich with accomplishments.
After launching on Saturday, the Cygnus spacecraft is set to arrive at the space station on Monday (Nov. 4) at about 4:10 a.m. NASA astronaut Jessica Meir will grapple the craft using the space station's Canadarm2 robotic arm. Meir will be supported by fellow NASA astronaut Christina Koch, with whom she completed the first all-woman spacewalk earlier this month.
While you can watch the launch live on Space.com, if you live near the Wallops Island area in Virginia, you can also attend a launch viewing live in person. Those in the area can watch the launch from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility Visitors Center, which is open to the public, or from the nearby Assateague Island National Seashore.
If you aren't so close but you live in the Eastern United States, you can use the map above (opens in new tab) to see if you might be able to spot the rocket launching from your neighborhood. However, while the map shows a wide range of visibility, bright skies in the morning might make the bright rocket difficult to spot in the sky.
If you snap any great shots of the launch that you'd like to share with us for a possible story or image gallery, feel free to send your photos, any comments you have about your experience, and both your name and location to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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