Its autumn and it’s time for another launch from Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility. Like previous ISS resupply missions we have seen from here before, the vehicle is an Antares Rocket which will provide a nice show for the East Coast. Here’s the visibility map from the previous April NG-11 mission. This next mission will be similar. It should be Visible from New York, all the way to South Carolina.
So when is it launching? Saturday November 2nd at 9:59 AM. The visitors center is one of the best sports to see it go up. Plan on getting there early, a couple of hours wouldn’t hurt so you can get a good spot, the traffic can get bad. Also wear something warm. The average high in early November is in the upper 60s, but when there’s a breeze coming off the water it can feel much colder. The backup day for launch is just one day later, on Sunday.
Northrup Grummuns’ NG-12 Mission will also have the late load capability to load some precious cargo within 24 hours of launch. This has been used before for cargo like mice so they have a better chance for survival on their trip to lower earth orbit.
So what’s going up? A bunch of science; The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer is going to help us understand on how universe formed. It will look for evidence of strange, dark and anti-matter.
The Astro Rad Vest, it’s a vest designed to protect astronauts from radiation from solar events like Coronal Mass Ejections. These events are the same ways we see the Northern Lights here on Earth. In Space, astronauts don’t have a magnetosphere to protect them from these random events. The Astronauts on the ISS will test how well it fits, how easy is it to put on and does it limit them from being able to work. If it works out, this vest could be used on future missions to the Moon and Mars!
Cookie time, the Zero-G Oven is going up to the ISS. Scientists and former astronauts are developing this with Double Tree to bake the first cookie in space. I wonder if it will be chewy or crispy? Think of it like a compact oven that Astronauts will be able to use to bake in microgravity. This could be a great resource for astronauts on long duration missions to give them a variety of flavor and extra nutrition in their food. It will allow them to cook their own food! Also, I’m sure the ISS crew wouldn’t mind the smell of freshly baked cookies wofting through the station.
The ISS is also going to test a Made in Space recycler which will be a system to reprocess plastic into 3D printing filament. Some time ago the ISS added a 3D printer so they can create what they need. By being able to recycle and produce more filimate, then they will have extra resources at their disposal in case the spool runs dry.
If you are going to see the launch and get into town the day before, you might see the Antares Rocket tipped on its side for that 24 hour late load, and they being up-righted by the evening prior to launch. So between now and then, lets hope for a decent forecast and follow me of Twitter or Facebook as I will keep an eye on the upper level winds to see if the weather will be favorable for launch.
See you at the launch!