Rocket Launch Visible from New Jersey Tonight
The launch of a rocket from a base in Virginia tonight will be visible in the skies over New Jersey tonight.
A record 29 satellites will be launched by the Orbital Sciences Minotaur 1 rocket, a joint NASA-U.S.military mission according to Space.com when it lifts off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia. The launch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. but the launch window is open until 9:15 p.m.
Skies should be clear over New Jersey providing among the best views of the firey trail in the southeast horizon when it appears 2 or 3 minutes after launch, especially in south and central New Jersey. Some portion of the launch will be visible from Maine to Florida.
One of the satellites is the guts of an ordinary smartphone that NASA is using to control a four-inch cube satellite that it calls PhoneSat 2.4; it will be "the first use of a phone as control system for a satellite," said NASA small satellite program manager Andy Petro. NASA sent three smartphones to orbit in April and they functioned briefly before coming back to Earth, but this will control the way the satellite operates.
And this phone-run satellite will remain in a 250-mile orbit for two years, Petro said. Solar panels and extra batteries will keep it running. One of the other notable satellites was a two-pound box built by students at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology at Alexandria, Va. That cube contains a voice synthesizer that converts text to voice and transmits it back to Earth via amateur radio.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.