Wallops Island Launch: Private Company's Rocket Launch Visible Across East Coast

Nathan Francis

The Wallops Island launch went out successfully this week, sending a bright streak across skies all along the East Coast as a rocket made its way to the International Space Station.

Though the rocket blasted off from Wallops Island, Virginia, at 1:07 pm on Thursday, people living all along the East Coast were able to watch along. The Wright Brothers Memorial in North Carolina tweeted that the launch was visible to people there.

The Wallops Island launch sent an unmanned Antares cargo rocket to the International Space Station. It will bring supplies to the researchers on board the station, as well as ants they will be using for an educational project.

It seemed for a time as if the launch might not happen. Originally scheduled for December, the Wallops Island launch was delayed for weeks while the space station was undergoing repairs.

The launch was rescheduled for earlier this week, but had to be delayed for the frigid weather that had moved in to the area. It was put off again when the first major solar flare of 2014 erupted from a sun spot seven times larger than the Earth.

"We are concerned about mission failure," Orbital's chief technical officer Antonio Elias told reporters in a teleconference.

The rocket was launched by the company Orbital Sciences Corp., an American company specializing in the manufacturing and launching of satellites.

"It was another excellent launch of Antares, and so far, our first CRS mission is off to a great start with Cygnus operating exactly as anticipated at this early stage of the mission," said David W. Thompson, Orbital's president and CEO, in a news release this week. "Our team has put in a lot of hard work to get to the point of performing regular ISS cargo delivery trips for NASA. It's an exciting day for all of us and I'm looking forward to completing this and our future CRS missions safely and successfully for our NASA customer."

After the Wallops Island launch, the rocket is expected to reach the International Space Station on Sunday at close to 6 am.