Update 9/6/13 – LADEE Moon launch successful. See Video and read about it.
Friday September 6th 2013 millions of people in the Northeastern U.S. will get the chance to see a rocket launch to the Moon! A Minotaur V rocket will propel the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) on its trip to the Moon. The Goddard Wallops Island facility recently started launching larger rockets at a new launch pad capable of supporting these missions. This is good news for those in the northeast as they will regularly be able to see launches like LADEE and also re-supply missions to the International Space Station. The window for the launch is September 6, 2013 11:27 – 11:31 PM EDT.
The Minotaur V is a five-stage space launch vehicle based on the flight-proven Minotaur IV vehicle and adds a solid motor fifth stage to propel LADEE into its lunar transfer orbit. It leverages the experience of the Air Force’s Peacekeeper program, along with the extensive flight heritage of Orbital’s Minotaur I, Minotaur IV, Pegasus and Taurus space launch vehicles to produce a highly reliable launcher for U.S. government space programs.
The standard space launch configuration of Minotaur V is made up of three decommissioned Peacekeeper solid fuel rocket motors that Orbital has upgraded and integrated with modern avionics and other subsystems, and solid fuel commercially-supplied STAR 48BV fourth and STAR 37FM fifth stages. The Minotaur V rocket is capable of launching payloads up to 342 kg (754 lbs) to trans-lunar injection orbit.
Last April an Antares Rocket was launched from Wallops which was also visible to much of the northeast.
This will be an excellent viewing opportunity as the rocket will be fairly high in the sky and easily seen. If the clouds permit make sure you go out and watch this launch to the MOON! You should be able to see it with the naked eye but once you have it binoculars will help as well. ENJOY!