Click on the image for a larger view

    The Wallops Flight Facility is one of the oldest launch facilities in the world and it is located less than 200 miles from Frederick (map). The facilty is primarily used by NASA to launch suborbital scientific balloons and sounding rockets. This time, an eight-story, five-stage booster Minotaur V rocket (photo) will be used in its maiden flight to send an 844-pound satelite into space via a highly elliptic orbit.

    The satellite is called LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere & Dust Environment Explorer) and will orbit the moon for approximately 100 days to collect data about the lunar atmosphere and the environmental influences on lunar dust. These are important data because scientists expect to get answers on long-standing questions and to gain understanding of conditions in other planetary bodies.

    LADEE (photo) has three science instruments, two spectrometers and one ...dust collector (see payload details here). along with one technology demonstrator. The technology demonstrator is a laser-based communications system testing optical (light) transmissions, similar to fiber optics on the ground. Typical space communication uses radio waves.

    Because the rocket is launched at night, it is expected to be visible to a large portion of the eastern corridor (visibility map). A number of projections have been made (link), showing how the launch can be seen from various cities and landmarks (DC, NYC, Cape Cod, MA, Raleigh, NC and others).

    For more details about the launch and how to see it, see the Links below.
    For up to the minute campus weather information, follow
Questions and Comments
If you have any questions, corrections or comments about this story, please contact George Dimitoglou (dimitoglou [at]

Photo Credits a. Wallops Island Map. Credit:
b. Minotaur V rocket at launch pad. Credit: NASA News.
c. LADEE being prepared. Credit: NASA Ames.
d. Visibility Map. Credit: Orbital Sciences.
e. LADEE Trajectory from Hood College. Credit: Hood College Weather Station, Dept. of Computer Science, Hood College, Frederick, Maryland.
a. b. c. d. e.
References and Links for more Information - LADEE Mission Page
- Orbital Minotaur V Rocket
- NASA Wallops Flight Facility
- NASA Solar System Exploration LADEE Launch Visibility