The countdown has begun for Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket, which will carry a Cygnus cargo spacecraft into the great beyond.
The liftoff will take place on Oct. 27, 2014, at 6:45 p.m. EDT from the Mid-Atlantic Spaceport's Pad 0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, NASA reported. The takeoff will most likely be a success because the weather this evening is expected to be 99 percent favorable.
The Cygnus space craft will carry 5,000 pounds of "science investigations, food, supplies and hardware," to the crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Cygnus is expected to catch up with the space station on Nov. 2, and will be reeled in by crew members Reid Wiseman and Barry "Butch" Wilmore at about 4:58 a.m.
The launch will mark Orbital's third mission to the International Space Station under its Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA.
The Antares rocket is 131.5 feet tall and boasts an impressive a liquid-fueled first stage powered by two Aerojet Rocketdyne AJ26 engines and a solid motor ATK CASTOR 30XL to throw it into orbit. Its powered launch sequence will last for about nine-and-a-half minutes from liftoff.
This mission will be the very first to use the larger, more powerful CASTOR 30XL second stage motor and will carry the heaviest load ever delivered by Cygnus to the ISS.
Public viewings of the exciting event will be available at the "NASA Visitor Center at Wallops, as well as at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and Assateague Island National Seashore. (Wallops visitors are reminded that alcohol and pets are not allowed on Visitor Center grounds.)" Residents throughout the mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the U.S. may be able to view the rocket's ascent from their own backyards if the weather permits. It will become visible on Wallops Island from the northwest horizon at 6:49 p.m. EDT and will pass directly overhead about six minutes later.