Space enthusiasts can watch NASA's first-ever 360-degree live stream of a rocket launch on April 18. The Orbital ATK robotic Cygnus cargo spacecraft is scheduled to launch toward the International Space Station from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Cygnus has flown a number of resupply runs in the past. However, its liftoff will be special, since viewers will get the opportunity to watch a launchpad's-eye view of the event, in 360 degrees. The launch time for the event is 11:11 a.m. EST.
NASA's First 360-Degree Live Stream Of A Rocket Launch
The liftoff can be watched on NASA's official YouTube channel.
"Those who own virtual reality headsets will be able to look around and experience the view as if they were actually standing on the launchpad," noted an official NASA statement.
The Cygnus is carrying more than 7,600 pounds of supplies, scientific gear, and hardware that it will take to the ISS. Because the cargo is so heavy, the mission will use an Atlas V rocket instead of the Antares booster, the usual booster employed during such missions. The replacement will take place because the Antares booster is not as powerful as the Atlas V.
"We have a wide range of support equipment that's going to be headed to station to support the science that's up there already, but also to introduce brand new capabilities," noted Tara Ruttley, associate scientist for the ISS program, during a prelaunch news conference at Kennedy Space Center.
The Cygnus cargo module is also known as the S.S. John Glenn, named in honor of the first American who orbited the Earth. The astronaut died in December 2016.
The S.S. John Glenn will travel for four days and arrive at the orbiting lab on April 22.
The April 18 launch is the third time that Cygnus is boosted by United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V. The launch marks the ULA's 71st overall launch of the rocket and the 36th in the spacecraft's 401 configuration.
Vern Thorp, program manager for commercial missions at the ULA, stated that this configuration has become the "Atlas V workhorse," as it has launched approximately half of the Atlas V missions up until now.
360-Degree Technology, A Way To Experience Rocket Launches
Both virtual reality and 360-degree technologies have become increasingly popular over the past few years. Live 360 technology offers advanced capacities that can be used efficiently during the launch of space missions to give viewers a more immersive experience.
While the minimum viewing distance is miles away from the launchpad, the 360-degree live stream offers viewers the possibility to experience the start of the space mission firsthand.
Spherical videos, as they are also known, are recordings that can be viewed in every direction, as the entire visual field is recorded at once, which allows the users to share the same view as the omnidirectional camera or the sets of cameras that record the event.
You can also watch the live broadcast via NASA's Facebook page.