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Archive for the tag 'nasa'

Photo by Ben Cooper /

Photo by Ben Cooper /

With gorgeous weather slated for the rest of the evening, New Yorkers may be gifted a rare treat thanks to NASA: a first-of-its-kind rocket launch from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia should be visible just after sunset.

The egg-heads down south will be shooting the fiery phallus into space at 6:45pm. Hopefully the sun will have sunk below the horizon, making the otherwise clear skies dark enough to see it as it streaks through the atmosphere, but there’s really no guarantee.

The rocket, owned by Orbital Sciences Corporation, is capped off with a Cygnus cargo spacecraft that will make its way to the International Space Station. According to NASA’s info page, “Cygnus is loaded with about 5,000 pounds of science investigations, food, supplies and hardware for the space station and its crew.” It should reach its destination on November 2.

An example of what tonight’s launch could look like if the sun hits it just right. (Source: USCLA Dept. of Physics and Astronomy)

This is the fifth ever launch of the Antares orbital rocket, and the first time it’s blasting off after sundown, so nobody is really sure what you will be able to see. Making it even more dicey is that it’s not really happening at night, but rather at twilight.

We asked our resident space guru Ben Cooper, of Manhattan Beach, who photographs such rocket launches for a living, what to expect from tonight’s launch.

“This one won’t be quite as bright [as the one I photographed last year, seen above this post],” he said. “It is also possible that the upper stage exhaust will catch the sunlight and look like a white comet type thing. It’s hard to say what tonight will look like. The Antares rocket has never launched at night before. A similar past launch from California could look like [the adjacent photo] if it is impressive enough.”

The best places in the area to catch a view of the rocket is the waterfront along Southern Brooklyn. Plumb Beach, Manhattan Beach, the Riegelmann Boardwalk in Brighton Beach or Coney Island and the Shore Parkway greenway spanning Bay Parkway to the Verrazano are your best bets.

According to a map distributed by NASA, you should be able to see the rocket between 180 and 210 second after it launches, when it climbs high enough over the horizon. You can also keep tabs on the launch here, where NASA will host a livestream. Launch coverage begins at 5:45pm.

In the unlikely event that weather hampers the launch – it’s currently considered 99 percent favorable – it will be postponed until Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. If you get a great photo, make sure to send it to nberke [at] bensonhurstbean [dot] com!


I.S. 281

I.S. 281

Students at I.S. 281 (8787 24th Avenue) were treated to a performance of “Forces in Motion,” a physics show that incorporates hip-hop in their educational message. News 12 is reporting that the program fuses dancing, music and science projects in a creative way to get kids excited about physics.

Some of the onstage antics seen in Forces in Motion include people wrestling in those puffy sumo outfits, MCs setting off bottle rockets and people throwing themselves on sticky Velcro walls to demonstrate inertia. Students were impressed with the show.

“They’re fun and I like to learn that way,” said one student.

“[I] like the imagery and you get to see what’s really going on, [and] understanding it,” said another.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, the project represents a collaboration between NASA and FMA Live! Leland Melvin, the NASA Associate Administrator for Education, spoke to the important impact the program seeks to leave on the education of children.

“Having a sound background in the laws of physics is a critical component of a student’s education and can open up a whole new world of opportunity. This has been a great collaboration between NASA and Honeywell, and I’m proud of how many students we’ve engaged through FMA Live! I have no doubt that many of those students are future NASA scientists who were just waiting to be inspired,” Leland told the Journal.

To learn more about the project, you can visit the FMA website by clicking here.


Degrees above the horizon that the rocket will be visible. (Source:

If the skies are clear tonight and you find yourself walking along the boardwalk at Coney Island or Brighton Beach, or by the Shore Parkway greenway along Gravesend Bay, you might just see a NASA rocket blasting towards the moon. Reader and contributor Ben Cooper tipped us off to the launch of the Minotaur V, a rocket carrying a small spacecraft called LADEE to the moon, and how you can catch it rising over the horizon tonight.

In his message to us, Cooper explained how to catch a glimpse of the rocket:

This Friday night, if skies are clear (and looks good so far), there will be a small rocket launch from NASA’s Virginia launch site known as Wallops Island that will be visible to NYers, especially down here along the ocean and boardwalk.

The Minotaur V rocket will carry a NASA spacecraft called LADEE to the moon; first ever moon launch from Virginia. The launch is slated for 11:27pm and there is a four minute window. (If it delays to Saturday it’s a 15 min window opening at 11:28pm and changes here and there each day).

From south Brooklyn/the boardwalk the general direction to look is just over the NJ part we can see (sandy hook area), arching up and to the left towards Breezy Point as it gains altitude. It would look like a bright moving star going up and out over the ocean (distance from here is about 200 miles).

Visibility info and graphics for some areas are here:

Check out this info graphic from NASA explaining the mission. (Click to enlarge).

Check out this info graphic from NASA explaining the mission. (Click to enlarge). are hoping to gain some attention for Wallops Island, which most of the public never heard of before recently really and has now become a launch site for small satellites like this. I think that is why they have put out all these graphics to get people interested.

Wallops Island has been a NASA facility for decades, but in terms of actual space launches the new launch pad they have just opened in 2006 and they have had I think five small rocket launches from it so far.

As for the mission itself, NASA summed up the entire project in this nifty graphic presented at right. If anyone snaps a great shot of the rocket tonight, please e-mail it into us so we can share it with everybody in the community. Thanks again go out to Ben Cooper for all the great information! Be sure to visit Ben’s website, Launch Photography, by clicking here.

Kaylie. Photo via Michael Saratovsky

The Space Shuttle Enterprise, which was last seen flying over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on the back of an airplane, has come back.

The shuttle is on its final leg of a journey from the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York.

The Enterprise has been parked at John F. Kennedy Airport since it arrived atop a modified Boeing 747 from Washington. On Sunday, the shuttle made its way across New York Harbor to Port Elizabeth, N.J. It passed under the Verrazano bridge along the way.

On June 5, the shuttle will travel up the Hudson River and complete its trip to the Intrepid Museum where it will finally be open to the public starting July 19.

Local reader Michael Saratovsky was with his young daughter Kaylie in Belle Harbor, NY and snapped these photos of the shuttle making it’s way across the waters.

Source: NASA via Wikimedia Commons

The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum will soon be the new home for the Space Shuttle Enterprise. As the shuttle makes its way to the museum, it is scheduled to fly over some of New York’s landmarks, including the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

The trip is tentatively scheduled for Friday, April 27, between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30a.m, weather permitting. The shuttle will be making the voyage on the back of a Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. The plane will be en route from Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., according to NYC Aviation, a worldwide aerospace organization for aviation enthusiasts and industry professionals.

After missing Monday’s initial scheduled flight due to bad weather and then missing the rescheduled Wednesday flight for the same reason, air and space fans are hoping Friday’s flight won’t get cancelled.

Because of security risks, the shuttle’s extensive itinerary will not be disclosed. However, air and space fans are using #shuttlespottingnyc on Twitter and Instagram to let followers know of any shuttle sightings. Also, the curious are encouraged to check out the for shuttle updates.

Good luck catching a glimpse of the shuttle. Tell us all about it below it if you do!