How to Watch the Spectacular Minotaur Night Launch on Nov. 19 with Record Setting 29 Satellite Payload

by Ken Kremer on November 19, 2013

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Elevation viewing map for Minotaur 1 rocket launch on Nov. 19 from NASA Wallops Island facility. Credit: Orbital Sciences

Elevation viewing map for Minotaur 1 rocket launch on Nov. 19 from NASA Wallops Island facility. Credit: Orbital Sciences

Tonight, Tuesday, Nov. 19, tens of millions of residents up and down the US East coast have another opportunity to watch a spectacular night launch from NASA’s Wallops Island facility in Virginia – weather permitting.

See a collection of detailed visibility and trajectory viewing maps, as well as streaming video of the launch, courtesy of rocket provider Orbital Sciences and NASA Wallops Flight Facility.

And to top that off, the four stage Minotaur 1 rocket is jam packed with a record setting payload of 29 satellites headed for Earth orbit.

And if that’s not enough to pique your interest, the Virginia seaside launch will also feature the first cubesat built by high school students.

And viewing is open to the public.

Minotaur 1 launch trajectory map for the US Capitol, Washington, DC.  Credit: Orbital Sciences

Minotaur 1 launch trajectory map for the US Capitol, Washington, DC. Credit: Orbital Sciences

Blastoff of the Minotaur I rocket for the Department of Defense’s Operationally Responsive Space Office on the ORS-3 mission is on target for tonight, Nov. 19, from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad-0B at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the eastern shore of Virginia.

The launch window for the 70 foot tall booster opens at 7:30 pm EST and extends until 9:15 pm EST.

Minotaur 1 launch trajectory map for Rockefeller Center N.Y.C.

Minotaur 1 launch trajectory map for Rockefeller Center N.Y.C.

The ORS-3 mission is a combined US Air Force and NASA endeavor that follows the flawless Nov. 18 launch of NASA’s MAVEN Mars orbiter from Florida by just 1 day.

However the pair of East coast launch pads are separated by some 800 miles.

Minotaur 1 launch trajectory map for Charleston S.C.

Minotaur 1 launch trajectory map for Charleston S.C.

According to NASA and Orbital Sciences, the launch may be visible along a wide swatch from northern Florida to southern Canada and well into the Midwest stretching to Indiana – if the clouds are minimal and atmospheric conditions are favorable from your particular viewing site.

The primary payload is the Space Test Program Satellite-3 (STPSat-3), an Air Force technology-demonstration mission, according to NASA.

Minotaur 1 launch trajectory map for Raleigh N.C.

Minotaur 1 launch trajectory map for Raleigh N.C.

Also loaded aboard are thirteen small cubesats being provided through NASA’s Cubesat Launch Initiative, NASA said in a statement. Among the cubesats is NASA’s Small Satellite Program PhoneSat 2 second generation smartphone mission and the first ever cubesat assembled by high schooler’s.

Minotaur 1 launch trajectory map for Philadelphia P.A.

Minotaur 1 launch trajectory map for Philadelphia P.A.

Locally, the NASA Visitor Center at Wallops and the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge/Assateague Island National Seashore will be open for viewing the launch. Visitors to Assateague need to be on the island by 6 p.m. before the entrance gate closes.

Live coverage of the launch is available via UStream beginning at 6:30 p.m. EST on launch day. Watch below:

Ken Kremer

About 

Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, scientist, freelance science journalist (Princeton, NJ) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calanders including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, BBC, SPACE.com, Spaceflight Now and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral and NASA Wallops on over 40 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight - www.kenkremer.com

miguez November 19, 2013 at 6:09 PM

I’ve seen Google Earth predicted paths like these before, during LADEE’s launch, they’re great! I was wondering, can you guys share that with us, so we could see what the launch would look like from where we live? I’m in Ohio, which is one of the marginal places where one could see tonight’s launch, but it would really help if I could see exactly where to look. Thanks!

Tim Josey November 19, 2013 at 7:28 PM

miguez, you can get the google earth file from Orbital Sciences’ website:
http://www.orbital.com/NewsInfo/MissionUpdates/MinotaurI_ORS-3/

miguez November 20, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Hi Tim, thanks for the answer! I wasn’t able to find it on that page, but I did find one for LADEE, which served as a good reference for this launch, in another page, after I poked around a little bit. Thanks again!

Lorraine November 19, 2013 at 7:59 PM

Any update on a launch time…

mjoshea148 November 19, 2013 at 8:27 PM

My wife, youngest son and I caught the Minotaur arcing to the southeast from Methuen, MA! Very bright and clearly a rocket given its trajectory. Keep up the great work Wallops!

Sean Cassidy November 19, 2013 at 11:25 PM

about what time out of curiosity?

mjoshea148 November 20, 2013 at 5:51 AM

It was around 8:17 or so in the southern sky. Bright orange in color – brighter and more visible than I would have thought. There’s a another launch from Wallops to the ISS currently scheduled for December 15th – might have a chance on that one. We accidentally slept through the LADEE launch when Dad set the alarm clock for 11AM instead of PM ;(

Sean Cassidy November 20, 2013 at 8:23 PM

that’s awesome. i was south of u so it would have been higher in my sky. let’s hope 4 clear skies that day.

DarkGnat November 19, 2013 at 9:27 PM

We saw it. It appeared as a bright orange light. Unfortunately clouds quickly obscured the rocket, but it was still cool to see.

Sean Cassidy November 19, 2013 at 11:23 PM

Dammit i just found out about this! I saw LADEE taking off from MA in September and would have loved to see another. Is there anyplace a Wallops launch schedule exists?

DisgustedOptimist November 20, 2013 at 11:08 AM

Wallops Flight Facility home page (see upcoming launch in right margin):
http://www.nasa.gov/centers/wallops/ or NASA launch schedule here: http://nasa.gov/missions/schedule/

Sean Cassidy November 20, 2013 at 8:21 PM

Thank u so much! I usually do a better job doing my own research but it’s nice to be lazy sometimes.

ITSRUF November 20, 2013 at 2:26 PM

I always get updates like this a day late. (I received this notice on Nov. 20th). The same is usually true of aurora, meteor showers, ect… Is there any way to get more notice?

Sean Cassidy November 20, 2013 at 8:22 PM

u can try to keep up to date with the Wallops launch facility website, here: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/wallops/home/index.html#.Uo1f4eKJ6HM

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