UPDATED: April 21 5:24 p.m. A commercial cargo spacecraft launched successfully from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility at 5 p.m. eastern time Sunday. It placed a dummy payload in orbit and deployed several micro satellites running Google’s Android operating system.
The launch of the Orbital Science Corporation’s Antares rocket should have been visible from South Carolina all the way to Portland, Maine, but the sun’s position likely blocked anyone from Connecticut seeing it. CTTechJunkie and many other watchers on the Connecticut shoreline could not see it during the period of time it should have been visible.
Orbital Sciences Corporation employee Carlos Niederstrasser posted a Google Earth KML file to help rocket watchers project where to look in the sky when the rocket lifts off. It might be a helpful tool for future launches that take place in the evening or early morning as the rocket will likely follow the same path to the International Space Station.
Orbital Sciences Corporation is one of two companies to win an International Space Station cargo delivery contract from NASA. The 18-minute mission will deliver a test cargo container to orbit but will not dock with the station. Competing provider SpaceX has now successfully completed three cargo delivery missions to the station.