Perfect Night For A Rocket Launch!Posted: September 6, 2013
The mission also represents a number of firsts, including:
First launch of the Minotaur V configuration
First five-stage vehicle flown by Orbital
First Peacekeeper-based vehicle launched from Wallops Flight Facility
First Lunar mission flown by Orbital
First Lunar mission flown from Wallops
Minotaur will boost the LADEE Spacecraft into a highly elliptical orbit of 200 km x 278,000 km around the Earth. For approximately 24 days, as LADEE orbits Earth three times, the Moon’s gravitational field will increase the perigee of its orbit. The spacecraft will fire its on-board thrusters to alter its trajectory to allow it to enter orbit around the Moon. The spacecraft is designed to conduct a 100 day mission to measure lunar dust and examine the lunar atmosphere from an orbit between 20 km and 150 km above the surface of the Moon. The LADEE program is managed by NASA/Ames Research Center.
Launch Viewing Information:
The targeted launch window on September 6, 2013 is from 11:27 – 11:31 PM EDT
Maximum Elevation Map:
This map shows the maximum elevation (degrees above the horizon) that the Minotaur V rocket will reach depending on your location along the east coast. The further away you are from the launch site, the closer to the horizon the rocket will be. As a reference, when you look at your fist with your arm fully outstretched, it spans approximately 10 degrees. Thus if you are in Washington, DC the highest point the Minotaur V will reach is approximately 13 degrees above the horizon, or just slightly more than a fist’s width. The contours shown stop below 5 degrees. 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.
Time of First Sighting Map:
This map shows the rough time at which you can first expect to see the Minotaur V rocket after it is launched. It represents the time at which the rocket will reach 5 degrees above the horizon and varies depending on your location along the east coast. 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 a reference, when you look at your fist with your arm fully outstretched, it spans approximately 10 degrees. As an example, using this map when observing from Washington, DC shows that the Minotaur V rocket will reach 5 degrees above the horizon approximately 54 seconds after launch (L + 54 sec).
What You Should See (Various Locations):
Although the views are shown in daylight, the LADEE launch is scheduled to occur at approximately 11:27 PM EST. The views below give an indication of the direction where you should look to see the launch, along with nearby features. In addition, weather and local lighting conditions can and will have a large effect on what a viewer will see.
Keep up to date on the Minotaur V launch by following them on Twitter: @OrbitalSciences That is where they will post the most up-to-date information in near real-time.
The graphics show the trajectory of the Minotaur V rocket as it rises over the horizon and continues on its path toward space. In the graphics, the trajectory appears to dip back toward Earth as the rocket moves further away from the observer and disappears beyond the horizon. The rocket, of course, is not returning to Earth – it is continuing its ascent, speeding higher and faster toward space. During its flight, Minotaur V will jettison rocket stages that have spent all their fuel. These harmlessly break up in the atmosphere and fall back into the ocean. The fifth stage, along with the LADEE spacecraft, is put into a high earth orbit. Once it separates from the fifth stage, LADEE will then use its own engines to continue on its mission to the Moon.
Click here to see the graphics.
If you get a picture of the rocket flying by you, please share it with me! Happy rocket viewing!