by Dr. Ken Kremer
Just a few hours south of Princeton, NASA plans a pair of historic launches from the Wallops Island center in Virginia on Sept. 6 & 17. Both launches are open to the public.A spectacular nighttime blastoff blazing a historic trail to the moon is set to soar first when NASA’s LADEE lunar spacecraft lifts off from the Eastern Shore of Virginia at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) Observatory will thunder to space at 11:27 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 6, from launch complex 0B atop the maiden flight of a Minotaur V rocket developed by Orbital Sciences Corp. LADEE’s late night launch will be absolutely spectacular and visible to tens of millions of spectators up and down the East coast and interior areas – weather permitting.
A Cygnus unmanned cargo carrier is slated to blast-off 11 days later on the historic first Demonstration Mission (CRS 1) to the International Space Station (ISS) on Sept. 17 atop Orbital’s privately developed Antares rocket from the adjacent launch pad 0A. Both the Minotaur V and Antares rockets are now in the midst of flight processing at Wallops.
The purpose of the Antares demo flight is to prove that the unmanned Cygnus can safely rendezvous and dock at the ISS. Cygnus will carry all types of essential equipment and science supplies to replace the cargo carrying ability of NASA’s retired space shuttles. The objectives are quite similar to the rival SpaceX Dragon.Using four science instruments, LADEE will collect data to inform scientists in unprecedented detail about the ultra-thin lunar atmosphere, environmental influences on lunar dust and conditions near the surface that may lead to a better understanding of other planetary bodies in our solar system.
The LADEE lunar orbiter will be historic in many ways. It’s the first probe of any kind ever launched beyond Earth orbit from NASA Wallops, as well as being the first planetary science mission from Wallops and the first launch of the Minotaur V rocket. Recently, I had an exclusive tour and photoshoot of the upper stages of LADEE’s Minotaur V rocket at Wallops.
At the Oct. 8 monthly AAAP meeting, I will present a lecture about these launches and more from NASA Wallops. Learn more about LADEE & Antares in my Universe Today articles here:
Astronomy Outreach by Dr. Ken Kremer
AAAP at Princeton U: Princeton, NJ: Oct. 8, 8 PM. “LADEE Lunar orbiter and Antares ISS Rocket Launches from Virginia.”
STAR Astronomy Club: Monmouth Museum at Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, NJ, Oct. 3, 8 PM, “Curiosity, MAVEN and the Search for Life on Mars (3-D).”
Rodeway Inn: Chincoteague Island, VA: Sep 5/6/16/17. “LADEE and Antares Launches from Virginia.”
Dr. Ken Kremer: Universe Today & AAAP
Please contact Ken for more info, science outreach presentations and his space photos.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.kenkremer.com