The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, is raised into the vertical position on a launchpad Thursday at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. (Bill Ingalls/NASA)

This post has been updated.

8 a.m. update Saturday: The launch was aborted due to an aircraft detected in the vicinity of the launch site. It has been re-scheduled for Sunday morning at 7:14 a.m. The weather will again be cold – near freezing in the Washington area – so spectators will want to, again, bundle up.

Original post from Friday

A rocket will blast away from Wallops Island, Va., early tomorrow morning and will be visible over much of the Mid-Atlantic. But, should you choose to take in the spectacle, wear your winter attire, as it is set to be the coldest morning of the fall so far.

Liftoff is set for 7:37 a.m., but check the launch status before heading out: These missions are sometimes delayed or scrubbed. Sometimes equipment malfunctions and, during some previous launch efforts, unidentified boats in the range of the launch site have foiled attempts. While it is expected to be very cold, weather should be very favorable for launch, with clear skies and light winds.

For best viewing in the D.C. area, find a location with an unimpeded view of the southeast sky, where you should direct your eyes. The rocket’s vapor trail should become visible about 90 seconds after launch. At its highest, the rocket will zip about 10 degrees above the horizon.


(NASA)

Beyond Washington, the launch should be visible between North Carolina and Connecticut.

The Antares rocket “will carry Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft with more than 7,000 pounds of food, clothing and experiments on the CRS-8 mission to the International Space Station,” NASA says.

This is the second International Space Station supply mission for this particular type of spacecraft. The last one happened Oct. 17, 2016, and was also visible around Washington.

In a previous effort in 2014, the rocket exploded, and the mission failed.

For launch updates on Saturday, follow NASA Wallops on Twitter and/or Facebook.

If you decide to venture out to watch, be prepared for temperatures in the 20s. Put on your hats and gloves and maybe brew some piping hot coffee. Or, if you prefer, watch the launch from the comfort of your home on NASA TV, which will begin coverage at 7 a.m.


Saturday morning temperature forecast.