On September 6, 2013 at the Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) in Virginia, the Minotaur V rocket will launch NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment (LADEE) into a lunar transfer orbit. The rocket will take LADEE in a highly elliptical orbit around the Earth that will continue for 23 days.
During that time period the spacecraft will orbit the Earth 3.5 times, as time progresses the Moon’s gravitational field will increase the perigee of the orbit and the spacecraft will fire its thrusters to enter an orbit around the Moon. LADEE is on a 100 day mission to examine the atmosphere of the Moon from 50km above its surface.
The targeted launch window is on September 6, 2013 from 11:27 – 11:31 PM EDT. The map above shows the locations at which you will likely be able to see the launch. As you get further from the launch site, the rocket will appear lower and lower on the horizon and anything below 5º will likely be too low to see. For more information on this project and a link to a Google Earth (KMZ) file to help you find out where to see the launch, head to Orbital’s mission update page.