News & Politics

How to Watch Tonight’s NASA Rocket Launch

Assuming no boats get in the way this time.

Please keep your boats away from the rocket. Photograph courtesy NASA.

You might have heard that the launch from Wallops Island, Virginia of a rocket carrying supplies to the International Space Station was scuttled Monday night after a sailboat navigated into the debris field. Fortunately for us stargazers, the skies this evening might still be clear enough to see the Antares rocket when it takes off, assuming there are no more interruptions. (Last night’s view would have been perfect, making the boat’s transgression even more infuriating.)

NASA resecheduled the launch from its Wallops Island facility for 6:22 PM, with a flight path that should give Washington, Baltimore, many points further north a good glimpse of its trajectory. Orbital Sciences Corporation, the Dulles-based company that manufactures the Antares craft, says the rocket should be visible in DC to the southeast about 96 seconds after takeoff. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial should be one of the better vantage points, with the rocket appearing from behind the Jefferson Memorial.

The Antares should remain visible for a couple minutes, with the first-stage ignition ending three minutes 55 seconds after takeoff and second-stage ignition starting 46 seconds later.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.