SpaceX Rocket Launch To Be Visible Along US East Coast Tuesday

August 8, 2016 – 06:24 pm
The predawn launch of a commercial SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Tuesday, Jan. 6, may be visible to observers along the Eastern United States. Shown here, a SpaceX Falcon 9 launches the company's Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station for NASA on Sept. 21, 2014.
Credit: SpaceX

Update for Jan. 9: SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launch has been rescheduled for Saturday, Jan. 10 at 4:47 a.m. EST (0947 GMT). The launch webcast will begin at 3:30 a.m. EST (0830 GMT).

Early-bird skywatchers along the eastern United States have an opportunity, weather permitting, to see the private spaceflight company SpaceX launch a robotic Dragon capsule to the International Space Station before dawn tomorrow (Jan. 6).

The Dragon space capsule will launch into orbit atop SpaceX's Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket at 6:20 a.m. EST (1120 GMT) tomorrow from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. As was the case with NASA's space shuttle launches to the station, tomorrow's launch will travel nearly parallel to the U.S. East Coast. That means the glow from the Falcon 9's engines should be visible in varying degrees along much of the Eastern Seaboard.

You can watch the Dragon launch in live webcasts provided by NASA TV and SpaceX. NASA's webcasts will begin at 5 a.m. EST (1000 GMT), with SpaceX's webcast beginning at 6 a.m. EST (1100 GMT), about 20 minutes before liftoff.

The official weather forecast continues to show a 60 percent chance of favorable weather for the launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral.The primary concern is with thick clouds over Florida's Space Coast at launch time. A cold front will pass over Central Florida today (Jan. 5), bringing moisture to the area. If the launch does not occur tomorrow, the next launch opportunity is scheduled for Friday morning (Jan. 9).

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket is launched into orbit using two stages. The first stage uses nine Merlin engines, which will fire together for 3 minutes after liftoff, then shut down. Five seconds later, the first and second stages will separate. Seven seconds after separation, the single-engine second stage will ignite, burning for another 6 minutes and 2 seconds. The Dragon capsule will then separate from the second stage and head into orbit. [SpaceX's Falcon 9 and Dragon Explained (Infographic)]


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  • avatar What is a good location for a rocket launch?
    • Near the equator, for two reasons:
      1) warmth- if ice is formed around the rocket, during liftoff the pieces can fling at high speeds and damage the rocket. (something similar happened during the Challenger disaster)
      2) speed- since the earth has the largest circumference around the equator (think of a tire- the outside of the tire goes faster than the inside during every turn). Therfore, it gives the rocket an extra 'boost' into space to break the gravitational pull.
      Of course, there's also other practical needs-
      away from large cities and airports, so that the intense vibrations at…