East Coast Residents Can See a NASA Rocket Launch This Week: When and Where To Look Up

NASA is set to launch a Northrop Grumman rocket on Tuesday from Virginia. Many northeastern residents will be able to see the liftoff.

A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus resupply spacecraft is in the vertical launch position on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0A, Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. NASA

Residents in northeastern states will get a rare glimpse of a rocket launch this week. On Tuesday afternoon, NASA will launch a Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo spacecraft atop an Antares rocket from the space agency’s Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia.

Liftoff is scheduled at 5:56 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday. The mission will carry 8,200 pounds of science and crew supplies to the International Space Station. It will be Northrop Grumman’s 16th re-supply mission to the ISS.

The best places to see the rocket launch are in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. NASA recommends six prime viewing spots:

  • The Wallops Visitor Center on Wallops Island, Virginia
  • Chincoteague Island in Chincoteague, Virginia
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland
  • Ocean City, Maryland
  • Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island State Park, Delaware

But as long as skies are clear, the rocket could be visible across the Mid-Atlantic region including parts of New Jersey.

New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow says Tuesday should be the “clearest day of the week, and viewing conditions should be pretty good.” The Wallops Range forecast issued for Tuesday’s launch puts weather at 80 percent favorable, with cumulus clouds being the main weather concern. 

The map above shows how many seconds after liftoff the Grumman rocket will be visible from different areas of the northeastern. NASA

The best time to see the rocket differs by location. In southern New Jersey, for example, the prime time to look up will be 60 to 90 seconds after the liftoff. In northern and central Jersey the best viewing time will be 90 to 120 seconds after launch.

Live coverage of the mission will begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday on NASA TV. The Cygnus spacecraft is expected to arrive at the space station at about 6:10 a.m. Thursday. NASA astronaut Megan McArthur from the Expedition 65 mission will capture Cygnus with the space station’s robotic arm with the help of European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet.

  East Coast Residents Can See a NASA Rocket Launch This Week: When and Where To Look Up