Commercial Antares/Cygnus Rocket Loaded with Science for July 13 Virginia Launch – Watch Live

NASA WALLOPS FLIGHT FACILITY, VA – Following further weather delays this week Orbital Sciences Corp. commercial Antares rocket is at last set to soar to space at lunchtime Sunday, July 13, from a beachside launch pad in Virginia carrying a private Cygnus cargo freighter loaded with a diverse array of science experiments including a flock of nanosatellites and deployers, student science experiments and small cubesat prototypes that may one day fly to Mars.

The privately developed Antares rocket is on a critical cargo resupply mission – named Orb-2 – bound for the International Space Station (ISS) and now targeting liftoff at 12:52 p.m. on July 13 from Launch Pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA Wallops Island on Virginia’s Eastern shore.

Read my complete Antares launch viewing guide here – “How to See the Antares/Cygnus July 13 Blastoff”

Severe thunderstorms up and down the US East coast forced two consecutive postponements this week from the Atlantic Ocean region launch pad at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, VA, from July 11 to July 13.

Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft await launch on Orb 2 mission on July 13, 2014 from Launch Pad 0A at NASA Wallops Flight Facility Facility, VA. Credit: Ken Kremer –

“Orbital’s launch team has made great progress in preparing the rocket for the Orb-2 mission, which will be the fourth flight of Antares in the past 15 months,” Orbital said in a statement.

“However, severe weather in the Wallops area has repeatedly interrupted the team’s normal operational schedule leading up to the launch. As a result, these activities have taken longer than expected. Orbital has decided to postpone the Orb-2 mission by an additional day in order to maintain normal launch operations processing.”

The pressurized Cygnus cargo freighter will deliver 1,657 kg (3653 lbs) of cargo to the ISS Expedition 40 crew including over 700 pounds (300 kg) of science experiments and instruments, crew supplies, food, water, computer equipment, spacewalk tools and student research experiments.

A flock of 28 nanosatellites from Planet Labs of San Francisco are aboard to take pictures of Earth.

Close-up view of Cygnus spacecraft atop Antares rocket on Orb 2 mission launching on July 13, 2014 from Launch Pad 0A at NASA Wallops Flight Facility Facility, VA. Credit: Ken Kremer –

After deployment from the Japanese JEM module they will form “the largest constellation of imaging satellites in Earth orbit,” said Robbie Schingler, Co-Founder of PlanetLabs.

“The individual satellites will take images that will be combined into a whole Earth mosaic,” Schingler told me in an interview at Wallops.

15 student experiments on the “Charlie Brown” mission are aboard and hosted by the Student Spaceflight Experiment Program, an initiative of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) and NanoRacks.

“The student experiments were chosen from over 1000 proposals from Grades 5 to 12,” said Jeff Goldstein, NCESSE director.

They will investigate plant, lettuce, raddish and mold growth and seed germination in zero-G, penecilium growth, corrosion inhibitors, oxidation in space and microencapsulation experiments.

The TechEdSat-4 is a small cubesat built by NASA’s Ames Research Center in California that will investigate technology to return small samples to Earth from the space station.

NASA will broadcast the Antares launch live on NASA TV starting at 12 Noon –

The weather prognosis is very favorable with a 90% chance of acceptable weather at launch time during the 5 minute window.

The Antares/Cygnus Orbital-2 (Orb-2) mission is the second of eight cargo resupply missions to the ISS under Orbital’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA.

NASA will broadcast the Antares launch live on NASA TV starting at 12 Noon –

Depending on local weather conditions, portions of the daylight liftoff could be visible to millions of spectators along the US Eastern seaboard stretching from South Carolina to Massachusetts.

Here’s a viewing map:

Orbital 2 Launch from NASA Wallops Island, VA on July 13, 2014- Time of First Sighting Map This map shows the rough time at which you can first expect to see Antares after it is launched on July 13, 2014. It represents the time at which the rocket will reach 5 degrees above the horizon and varies depending on your location . We have selected 5 degrees as it is unlikely that you’ll be able to view the rocket when it is below 5 degrees due to buildings, vegetation, and other terrain features. As an example, using this map when observing from Washington, DC shows that Antares will reach 5 degrees above the horizon more than a minute. Credit: Orbital Sciences

The best viewing will be in the mid-Atlantic region closest to Wallops Island.

Locally at Wallops you’ll get a magnificent view and hear the rockets thunder at either the NASA Wallops Visitor Center or the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge/Assateague National Seashore.

For more information about the Wallops Visitors Center, including directions, see:

NASA will have special “countdown speakers” set up at the NASA Wallops Visitor Center, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge/Assateague National Seashore and Ocean City inlet.

ATK built 2nd stage integrated onto 1st stage of Orbital Sciences Antares rocket slated for July 11, 2014 launch on the Orb-2 mission from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, bound for the ISS. The rocket undergoes processing at the Horizontal Integration Facility at NASA Wallops during visit by Universe Today/Ken Kremer. Credit: Ken Kremer –

Orbital Sciences was awarded a $1.9 Billion supply contract by NASA to deliver 20,000 kilograms of research experiments, crew provisions, spare parts and hardware for 8 flight to the ISS through 2016 under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) initiative.

The July mission marks the second operational Antares/Cygnus flight.

The two stage Antares rocket stands 132 feet tall. It takes about 10 minutes from launch until separation of Cygnus from the Antares vehicle.

Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft await launch on Orb 2 mission on July 13, 2014 from Launch Pad 0A at NASA Wallops Flight Facility Facility, VA. LADEE lunar mission launch pad 0B stands adjacent to right of Antares. Credit: Ken Kremer –

SpaceX has a similar resupply contract using their Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo carrier and just completed their 3rd operational mission to the ISS in May.

Watch for Ken’s onsite Antares Orb-2 mission reports from NASA Wallops, VA.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing ISS, OCO-2, GPM, Curiosity, Opportunity, Orion, SpaceX, Boeing, Orbital Sciences, MAVEN, MOM, Mars and more Earth & Planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer


Learn more about NASA’s Mars missions and Orbital Sciences Antares ISS launch on July 13 from NASA Wallops, VA in July and more about SpaceX, Boeing and commercial space and more at Ken’s upcoming presentations.

July 11/12/13: “Antares/Cygnus ISS Launch from Virginia” & “Space mission updates”; Rodeway Inn, Chincoteague, VA, evening

Ken Kremer

Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, research scientist, freelance science journalist (KSC area,FL) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calendars including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, FOX, BBC,, Spaceflight Now, Science 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, NASA Wallops, NASA Michoud/Stennis/Langley and on over 80 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight - Follow Ken on Facebook and Twitter

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