Thursday, July 18, 2024

Watch the Firefly Aerospace Noise of Summer rocket launch – NBC Los Angeles

Update (8:31 p.m.): Tuesday’s planned launch has been postponed. Original story appears below.

Southern Californians and other sky-watchers in the U.S. West might get a glimpse of Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha rocket Tuesday night when it launches from the Santa Barbara County coast.

The window for the launch, part of the “Noise of Summer” mission initially scheduled for Monday, will open at 9:03 p.m. PT at Vandenberg Space Force Base about 160 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The rocket’s exhaust plume might be illuminated by the setting sun against the backdrop of a darkening sky, possibly providing a viewing opportunity for a large swath of the U.S. West as the rocket soars over the Pacific Ocean.

This map depicts visibility for the Noise of Summer mission launch of a Firefly Alpha rocket form Vandenberg Space Force Base.

Rockets launched from the base and their exhaust plumes are sometimes visible for hundreds of miles as they soar along the coast, if skies are clear. Launches just after sunset and before sunrise usually provide the best views as the rocket reflects the sun’s rays against the dark sky backdrop.

Sunset is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Click here for live coverage with Firefly and NASASpaceflight.com.

The launch will be the Alpha rocket’s fifth mission and comes six months after its last flight. Monday’s scheduled launch was scrubbed due to a ground release equipment issue.

The Noise of Summer Earth science mission will launch eight cubesats — small box-shaped mini-satellites — from the 95-foot-tall Alpha rocket, which made its debut test flight in September 2021. The cubesats were selected as part of NASA’s Cubesat Launch Initiative, which was created to help provide a path into space for satellites developed at U.S. colleges, universities and nonprofit organizations.

Two of the satellites were built to work as a pair and improve relative navigation between spacecraft in orbit. The goal is to address the problem of increasing satellite congestion in orbit.

Click here to read more about the eight satellites.

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