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CubeSat Launch Visible Around U.S. East Coast Tonight

Soulskill posted about 9 months ago | from the sky-lights dept.

Space 34

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Brad Lendon reports at CNN that 29 satellites, the most ever launched at one time, will be aboard a single Minotaur I rocket scheduled to lift off from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia Tuesday night at 7:30 pm. The main payload will be the Air Force's Space Test Program Satellite-3, plus 28 tiny satellites called CubeSats about 4 inches on each side, weighing about 3 pounds and with a volume of about a quart. The cubesats will include Ho`oponopono-2 from the University of Hawaii to continue a long-existing radar calibration service for the 80 plus C-band radar tracking stations distributed around the world. It will also have CAPE-2 from the Cajun Advanced Picosatellite Experiment, to give students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette the opportunity to research, design, develop, and maintain a low earth orbiting satellite, and SwampSat from the University of Florida to advance the TRL (Technology Readiness Level) of CMGs (Control Moment Gyroscopes) appropriate for smallsats. Among the CubeSats is the TJ3Sat, the first satellite made by high-schoolers to go into space, built by the students of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia. It will give students and other amateur radio users the opportunity to send and receive data from the satellite. Approved text strings will be transmitted to the satellite, and the resulting voice interpretation will be relayed back to Earth over an amateur radio frequency using the onboard Stensat radio. Orbital says the 29 satellites should achieve orbit in a little less than 12½ minutes after the rocket ignites. NASA says the launch may be visible from northern Florida to southern Canada and as far west as Indiana. Live coverage of the launch is available via UStream beginning at 6:30 p.m. EST on launch day."

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Technical Difficulties (2)

Hidyman (225308) | about 9 months ago | (#45468483)

As of 18:46 EST they are at 1 hour and holding. Due to a problem with a downrange telemetry site.

Re:Technical Difficulties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45468635)

That's a lie! It was aliens! I seen them.

Re:Technical Difficulties (2)

Hidyman (225308) | about 9 months ago | (#45468677)

Countdown running again. T - 56 Minutes.

15 degrees of separation (2)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 9 months ago | (#45468491)

look at the visibility map. 15 degrees of max altitude? that won't clear the treeline. but, i live out on the rural side. still, i'll look while killing a Bud.

Re:15 degrees of separation (1)

_merlin (160982) | about 9 months ago | (#45468653)

A Bud? Why not have a beer instead? (Unless you're talking about smoking bud, but then you wouldn't have capitalised it...)

Re:15 degrees of separation (3, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | about 9 months ago | (#45468707)

Bud as in friend...

Re:15 degrees of separation (4, Funny)

_merlin (160982) | about 9 months ago | (#45468793)

That only makes it weirder - he plans to watch for a satellite launch while murdering his friend?!?!?!?

Re:15 degrees of separation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45469211)

What's the easiest way to shoot down a satellite?

Re:15 degrees of separation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45469393)

I saw from my yard in CT. My son was excited to see the launch on NASA tv and then run outside to see it for real just above the tree line (no leaves) for me.

Thanks slashdot for the article!

Re:15 degrees of separation (1)

kimvette (919543) | about 9 months ago | (#45470389)

I saw it from NH. I thought it was an airliner at first until the trajectory made it obvious then it flamed out. Considering I'm over 400 miles away the view wasn't bad. I was down there today and had I remembered the launch I'd have stayed one more day.

Countdown started! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45468659)

Launch time is now 8:15PM EST.

Re:Countdown started! (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 9 months ago | (#45468859)

announced again to be 8:15 PMEST (7:41PMEST) UTC? dunno.

beginning at 6:30 p.m. EST on launch day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45468669)

beginning at 6:30 p.m. EST on launch day

...and once again, despite likely having received this submission a week ago, the Slashdot editors assume that everyone is hopelessly addicted to checking their web site continuously throughout the day, every day, and so there's no conceivable reason anyone might want to read this story more than 13 minutes before the live coverage of the launch begins.

Re:beginning at 6:30 p.m. EST on launch day (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 9 months ago | (#45468685)

...or like 2 hours after :/

Re:beginning at 6:30 p.m. EST on launch day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45469387)

I'm pretty fucking pissed about this too. I mean what the hell. I could have watched it out my window if I only knew. Dammit!

Re:beginning at 6:30 p.m. EST on launch day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45469593)

I think the Slashdot editors stopped caring years ago and ever since then have simply been trolling us.

Quart??? (1)

hawkfish (8978) | about 9 months ago | (#45468763)

I think TFS meant "litre"...

Re:Quart??? (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 9 months ago | (#45468873)

I think TFS meant "litre"...

The cubes are 10 cm per side. So they could either say "about a quart" or "exactly a liter", and they chose the former.

Good luck to all! (4, Funny)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 9 months ago | (#45468801)

> The main payload will be the Air Force's Space Test Program Satellite-3, plus
> 28 tiny satellites called CubeSats about 4 inches on each side

Mission Director: Orbit achieved. Launch the Air Force satellite!

Operator: Launched...and away, sir.

Mission Director: Release the CubeSats!

Operator: Releasing...all launched.

Mission Director: How are they doing?

Operator: All 28 read nominal.

Mission Director: Good. I...

Operator: Oop. One just went offline.. Wait, another just did, too. And another.

Mission Director: What the Hell...?

Operator: Another...and another! Every two seconds, one drops offline. They read a sudden temperature spike, then nothing. OH, that's it, all 28 are gone.

Air Force Guy: That sux for you. My satellite just completed its 28 tests with flying colors.

Looked like a little red dot from DC. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45469141)

Still, pretty neat. Nothing as cool as the ICBM launches I used to support... even tho the thing is a re-purposed ICBM itself.

Was easily visible from near Toronto, Canada (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45469189)

Watched without binoculars. Appeared as a red dot rising at a 45 degree angle from the SSE heading E and could see a tiny trail. Pretty damned cool!

Re: Was easily visible from near Toronto, Canada (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45469265)

Had my sons out there to watch it. Between watching the video of the pad at launch and then being able to look up and see it rising above the house 7 seconds later they were really excited. Hoping the enthusiasm sticks!

Saw it with my kids from southern Ontario (2)

DaveyJJ (1198633) | about 9 months ago | (#45469441)

We're up in Waterloo, Ontario. Watched the launch go on NASA live and knew I had about two minutes. Got the kids out the back patio and facing SE up into the clear night sky. Our backyard faces due south and the moon was just out of sight behind the corner of the neighbours house to my left (looking south). About T+120 seconds saw the orange exhaust glow for about 20 seconds before it faded out. A bit "ripply" due to the amount of atmosphere and angle. Not especially bright, about 50% of the magnitude of Venus this evening (earlier). Only got about 15 degree above the horizon, just about 5 degrees above the house to the SE of us. Cool. Saw a launch from Vandenburg (?) more than a decade ago from Arizona and it was much more spectacular. But any excuse to teach the kids and show them a rocket launch shouldn't be missed.

Rocket sighted from New Jersey (3, Interesting)

j_presper_eckert (617907) | about 9 months ago | (#45469475)

Clearly visible from my selected seashore town in southern New Jersey. I could not make out the exhaust trail due to some ultra-local light pollution (fortunately not TOO overpowering), but the engine glow itself was visible the entire time. I had a cloudless night here that was just too good to waste by not going for a drive this evening to "be there in person".

From a distance of roughly 80 miles from Wallops Island, the light was a visible circle (not a mere point-source) and strongly resembled the somewhat faint orange glow of a lit cigarette in a darkened room. From this vantage point, it did not shrink to a point until nearly 2 to 2.5 minutes after my first sighting

While the rocket was on its way, It was really nice to be talking to a friend on the phone who was viewing the live webcast on his computer. This gave me basically realtime intel on when each engine stage was shut down and the next one was ignited -- I could actually see the glow temporarily darken, then brighten again several seconds later. All in all, a very enjoyable experience despite my inability to be any closer to the launch site.

I'm extremely impressed that it was clearly visible from Toronto, eh! :)

Re:Rocket sighted from New Jersey (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45470127)

re: clearly visible from Toronto, eh! :)
With almost full moonlight? I doubt it. I saw nothing from Niagara area!

Re:Rocket sighted from New Jersey (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45471941)

I live in Swansea, MA and I clearly saw the engine glow... watched observed the 1st stage engine shut down, I couldn't see the rocket for a while but approximated the trajectory based on the path I was following. 30 seconds or so I saw the next stage ignite. it was pretty cool.

You can clearly discern a rocket engine glow from anything else in the sky.

Brooklyn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45469607)

Very clearly visible from southern Brooklyn. With a cheap pair of binoculars I could even see the stages separate.

Virginia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45470107)

not to bash Virginia, but I thought NASA launched rockets from the Kennedy Space Center. I learned something new. never heard of Wallops Flight Facility until today. any reason why NASA would launch a rocket from Virginia instead of Florida? *scratches head*

Re:Virginia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45471445)

Something to do with Wallops Flight Facility predating Kennedy Space Center by over a decade.

Just heard the sat (1)

madshot (621087) | about 9 months ago | (#45470135)

I heard the sat fly over about 30 minutes ago broadcasting it's morse code. Pretty cool stuff!

Re:Just heard the sat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45474781)

Awesome. I assume that you saw the link on this page to report contact: http://www.tjhsst.edu/students/activities/tj3sat/
I wish that I had the equipment to listen.
As a TJ alum, I'm slightly sentimental about this, even though it happened after my time.

My favorite part of the Washington Post article:

Ultimately, the satellite is expected to fall into the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up, at which point the voice synthesizer will be programmed to say “I’m melting.”

More exact, less "About" if you use metric ;-) (1)

fantomas (94850) | about 9 months ago | (#45471543)

"about 4 inches on each side, weighing about 3 pounds and with a volume of about a quart."

According to the specification [cubesat.org] linked from the wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] , you can offer more exact measurements in metric:
-The CubeSat shall be 100mm +/- 0.1 mm wide (X and Y dimensions)
- The CubeSat shall be 113.5mm +/- 0.1 mm wide (Z dimension)
- Each single CubeSat shall not exceed 1.33kg mass

Borg? (1)

longbot (789962) | about 9 months ago | (#45504579)

Cube-shaped satellites silhouetted against the Earth, and no one makes a joke about Borg cubes?! This is not the Slashdot I remember...
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