Hey you. Yeah you! Wanna see a rocket launch?
Tonight, millions of people on the east coast can watch NASA launch a rocket toward the International Space Station (assuming the weather cooperates). One of Northrop Grumman’s Antares rockets is scheduled for Tuesday August 1 at 8:31 p.m. ET, and it’s taking off from the Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia. Launches like these can sometimes be viewable from backyards, rooftops, and balconies across a huge swath of the eastern U.S.
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This launch is expected to be Northrop Grumman’s 19th expedition, and it would supply the International Space Station with provisions, experimental materials, and other equipment.
Here’s how to watch:
How to watch the launch from near the launch site
If you’re near the launch site, what are you waiting for? NASA recommends heading to Wallops Visitor Center, seven miles away, with its clear view of the launchpad. Another great option would be Chincoteague Island, fifteen miles from Wallops, where NASA recommends stopping at Curtis Merritt Harbor, Robert Reed Park, or the Museum of Chincoteague Island. If you’re a little further out, you can try and watch the launch from Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland. You can also check it out from the Delaware Seashore, or Virginia Beach.
How to watch the launch from elsewhere on the east coast
As NASA’s helpful map (at the top of this article) shows, each concentric, color-coded ring matches a time when the rocket should be visible, based on calculations of rocket speed, direction, distance, and the curvature of the Earth. The map appears to show that some major population centers like New York City lack the required 3 degrees of elevation, and won’t have line-of-sight access.
However, people in huge sections of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York State, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina will be able to see it.
How to watch the launch online
If you aren’t lucky enough to be in one of the areas on the color-coded map, you can watch online. NASA’s livestream of the launch is right here:
As of this writing on Tuesday afternoon, conditions were considered 80 percent favorable for launch. There’s always a chance a mission can be scrubbed for one of a million reasons, but it looks like your odds of seeing a rocket streak through the sky tonight (or on your screen) are pretty good.