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NASA Invites Media, Public to Watch Cargo Launch to Space Station

NASA commercial cargo provider Northrop Grumman is targeting 10:27 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 29, for the launch of its 14th resupply mission to the International Space Station. Live coverage of the launch from Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia, will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website, with prelaunch events Monday, Sept. 28, and Tuesday, Sept. 29.

Loaded with nearly 8,000 pounds of research, crew supplies, and hardware, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft will launch on the company’s Antares rocket from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.

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The Cygnus spacecraft, dubbed the SS Kalpana Chawla, will arrive at the space station Saturday, Oct. 3. Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA will grapple Cygnus and Flight Engineer Ivan Vagner of Roscosmos will act as a backup. After Cygnus capture, mission control in Houston will send ground commands for the station’s robotic arm to rotate and install it on the bottom of the station’s Unity module. Cygnus is scheduled to remain at the space station until mid-December, when it will depart the station. Following departure, the Saffire-V experiment will be conducted prior to Cygnus deorbit and disposing of several tons of trash during a fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere approximately two weeks later.

Members of the public can attend the launch virtually, receiving mission updates, and opportunities normally received by on-site guests.

Complete coverage of launch activities is as follows (all times Eastern):

Monday, Sept. 28

  • 1:00 p.m. – Pre-launch News Conference with the following participants:
    • Greg Dorth, manager, International Space Station Program External Integration Office, NASA
    • Heidi Parris, assistant program scientist, International Space Station Program Science Office, NASA
    • Shannon Fitzpatrick, chief, Wallops Flight Facility Range and Mission Management Office, NASA
    • Frank DeMauro, vice president and general manager, Tactical Space, Northrop Grumman
    • Kurt Eberly, director, Launch Vehicles, Northrop Grumman

Tuesday, Sept. 29

  • 10 p.m. – Launch coverage begins

Saturday, Oct. 3

  • 3:45 a.m. – Rendezvous coverage begins
  • 5:15 a.m. – Capture of Cygnus with the space station’s robotic arm
  • 7:00 a.m. – Cygnus installation operations coverage

NASA’s virtual launch experience for the mission includes: curated launch resources, a behind-the-scenes look at the mission, notifications about NASA social interactions, and the opportunity for a virtual launch passport stamp following a successful launch.

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Members of the public can share in the mission through a variety of activities, including:

Virtual Launch Event

Register for email updates or RSVP to the Facebook event for social media updates to stay up-to-date on mission information, mission highlights, and interaction opportunities.

Ask Them Anything

On Thursday, Sept. 24, experts will discuss highlights of science investigations, technology demonstrations, and commercial products launching on Cygnus. Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live online, and questions can be submitted on social media using #AskNASA.

On Friday, Sept. 25, experts will answer public questions on Reddit Ask Me Anything forums about select science on the mission – the Universal Waste Management System, Plant Habitat-02, and the International Space Station Experience EVA Camera. Additional information will be shared with Eventbrite registrants and Facebook RSVPs.

Virtual Launch Passport

Print, fold, and get ready to fill your virtual launch passport. Stamps will be emailed following launches to all virtual attendees registered by email through Eventbrite.

View from the Mid-Atlantic Region

The launch may be visible, weather permitting, to residents throughout the mid-Atlantic region and possibly the East Coast of the United States.

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