East Coast Launch from Wallops Island May 5-9

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MeteorWayne

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http://www.space.com/spacewatch/090501- ... aunch.html (Full Article)

From Joe Rao @ SDC (Thanx Joe!)


Excerpts:

Should a rocket blast off on schedule early Tuesday evening from NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia, a potentially spectacular sight might be visible across a wide swath of the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, weather permitting.

It would be only the third attempt at launching an orbital rocket from this coastal Virginia range – located just south of Assateague Island – in the last 13 and a half years.

.......

Now another Minotaur I rocket awaits liftoff from the Wallops Flight Facility Tuesday, May 5, no earlier than 8 p.m. EDT. A home video of a Minotaur launch out West in 2005, shot by Doc Searls with his son, shows they can be spectacular crowd-pleasers.

While many Westerners are fairly familiar with such sightings, they are all but unknown in the East and so may end up surprising millions of people should the Minotaur I lift off on schedule.

The chief goal of this flight is to place the 880-pound TacSat-3 satellite with its trio of payloads that will offer real-time imagery (within 10-minutes of collection), sea-based information transmitted from ocean buoys and plug-and-play avionics to assist warfighters in keeping one step ahead of their adversaries.

In addition, three "cubesats" will be launched as secondary payloads on the TacSat-3 mission.

A launch window from May 5 to 9, from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EDT each day, has been established to take into account bad weather or equipment glitches (see "Final Points" below). A launch after 8:00 p.m. EDT would occur just after sunset along the entire Atlantic Coastline.

What to expect

Over the years, similar rocket firings have routinely taken place from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. Rocket launches that have occurred around the time of sunrise or sunset have left long, glowing contrails in their wake that have been seen for a few hundred miles across the Desert Southwest; often becoming contorted by high level winds into strange and exotic patterns and sometimes, prismatic colors.

Based on a very similar launch from Wallops Island in December 2006 and similar dusk and dawn launches from Vandenberg as a guide, I've determined that it should be possible that Tuesday's post-sunset launch may be visible as far north as southern Maine; as far south as northeastern Florida and as far west as eastern Kentucky. The rocket will be launched on a southeast trajectory. Approximately six minutes after launch it will be passing north of Bermuda. Three minutes later it will reach orbital altitude over the middle of the North Atlantic.

Observers who are situated within about 800 statute miles of the Wallops Island Flight Facility appear to have a reasonable chance of catching a view of the Minotaur I contrail within the first few minutes after launch.

The key to making a sighting is to have a clear, unobstructed view of the horizon in the direction of Wallops Island. For example, a viewer in Raleigh, North Carolina should look toward the northeast; in Boston, Massachusetts look southwest; in Wheeling, West Virginia it will be due east.

Areas farther to the northeast (toward southern New England) have an advantage since skies will be darker – sunset will come somewhat earlier than it will along the Mid-Atlantic Coast. At Wallops, it's at 7:57 p.m., but from Boston it's at 7:49 p.m.

Farther to the west, across the Ohio Valley the Sun will still be above the horizon so the launch may only be barely visible, if at all against the blue daytime sky. But should the launch be delayed by just 30-minutes, sunset will arrive, sufficiently darkening local skies.

.......

The latest launch updates are available from NASA here:

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/wallops/mis ... csat3.html

It will be webcast live at:

http://sites.wff.nasa.gov/webcast/
 
M

MeteorWayne

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Well, if you can get to the top of an eastward facing ridge... :)
 
M

MeteorWayne

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As of 10:30 AM (1/2 hour ago) the launch is still on for tonights 8-11PM EDT launch window.

The coundown begins at noon.

MW

Edit 11:30 AM

I just spoke to them Launch constraints are:

5000 ft minimum ceiling, but could be lower if thin.

And of course lightning near the pad during countdown operations. Currently there is an ugly line heading toward them.

I'll post some radar and satellite image links shortly.

MW
 
M

MeteorWayne

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As of 2 PM EDT, the countdown is proceeding at T - 6:00, but there is an 85% chance of weather preventing a launch tonight during the 8-11PM window.
 
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Swampcat

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http://sites.wff.nasa.gov/webcast/

"Posted by RCC on 2009-05-05 at 20:05:16 EDT
We have canceled tonight's launch attempt of the Minotaur 1 rocket because of poor weather conditions. A decision on the next launch attempt will be made later tonight.

"Posted by RCC on 2009-05-05 at 21:06:18 EDT
We have decided not to try a launch attempt tomorrow, May 6. The next launch attempt will be Thursday, May 7 with a launch window of 8 to 11 p.m."

Also, from SpaceFlightNow.com:

Bad weather scrubs Minotaur rocket launch

"Liftoff of a Minotaur 1 rocket with a technology demonstration satellite for the U.S. Air Force from Virginia's eastern coast was scrubbed tonight due to unfavorable weather."
 
M

MeteorWayne

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Looks like it's on for tonight, and the weather looks better.
 
N

newsartist

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MeteorWayne":1jzwhun7 said:
Looks like it's on for tonight, and the weather looks better.
It looks a lot better here for viewing too!

Please post coundown updates here M_W?
 
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Swampcat

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Orbital is currently working an issue with GSE. Holding at T-45 minutes.
 
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newsartist

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They are still trying as we near 9pm.

The count is being reset to T-15 minutes, so they can react faster if everything gets cleared up. Weather may be an issue later.

CORRECTION!

The count is T-50, not as posted above. Bad audio link, I misheard it?
 
N

newsartist

Guest
The count has been reset again, but now they are COUNTING toward a new T-0 of about 0240z (~10:40 EDT.)

Lightning and mid level clouds should stay west of Wallops until well after the launch window closes.
 
N

newsartist

Guest
SCRUB for tonight at T-2:13.

Something went to condition red at that time, and they were running out of time and weather.

The vehicle has been safed, and the gantry is being rolled back for thunderstorm protection overnight.
 
S

Swampcat

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From SpaceFlightNow.com:

"The launch team has been instructed that they will not try another attempt at launch tomorrow. They were also told the next attempt may not be until May 19."
 
M

MeteorWayne

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Yes some of the resources will need to be used for the STS-125 mission, and with the STS-400 rescue mission next on the plate, they will have to wait till that is all cleared.

Hopefully, the weather will be better by then :)
 
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wubblie

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Really makes you wonder about how realistic the COTS timelines are when neither Orbital nor Spacex can launch anything. Imagine the delays if they were launching a large new rocket with new hardware. Supposedly these alt space companies have improved operational efficiency, but it takes like what, months, to launch tiny 800kg payloads?
 
M

MeteorWayne

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Looks like they will try again tonight. Unfortunately the first hour of the launch window is before sunset.

From spaceflightnow:

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/minotaur/ ... tatus.html

Military officials will try again Tuesday to launch a Minotaur rocket with a low-cost, high-tech demonstration satellite after a series of attempts earlier this month were thwarted by bad weather and technical snags.

The 69-foot-tall solid-fueled rocket has nearly four hours to blast off from Wallops Island, Va., on Tuesday. The Minotaur is carrying TacSat 3, a U.S. Air Force satellite that will conduct a year of experiments designed to help better link troops with space assets.

The launch window opens at 7:35 p.m. EDT (2335 GMT) and closes at 11:30 p.m. EDT (0330 GMT Wednesday). Officials extended the window from its original three-hour length to give the Minotaur 1 rocket a better shot at launching.
 
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MeteorWayne

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Looks like the launch may be delayed a bit from the 7:35 EDT time. (good news for we who want to see it) They were missing some radar coverage. Found ships that can do it, but will not prceed past T-1:00 until they are in position

Count currently running at t -!:08:00

Webcast is up, BTW....
 
M

MeteorWayne

Guest
Less than half an hour to go.

On track for 7:35 PM EDT launch....
 
M

MeteorWayne

Guest
Uhh Ohh, a problem with the range... HOLD

Boat on the range....jerk!
 
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