There’s a big hunk of metal falling out of space on Thursday, and the Museum of York County wants you to be there to witness it.
NASA’s Orion Spacecraft will be taking its inaugural flight, launching from Cape Canaveral early in the morning, shooting up into space, circling Earth twice, then splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.
“It’s very exciting,” said Carole Holmberg, manager of the museum’s Settlemyre Planetarium – the only full-dome planetarium in the area.
The planetarium participates in many NASA initiatives, Holmberg said, and when she heard the Orion splashdown was happening during the day, she decided to broadcast it so space enthusiasts could gather to watch it.
“Part of the joy is just being together with other people,” she said.
Although this flight will be unmanned, she said, the Orion mission is huge, because it represents the first step in getting people – especially Americans – back into space. It’s the highest-flying spacecraft designed for humans since 1972.
When the Orion lands in the ocean, it will be picked up and NASA scientists and engineers will collect data from it to determine if humans could have survived the flight. That data will help plan future missions that could take people to the moon, to an asteroid or even to Mars, Holmberg said.
The viewing event will be from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. While the coverage itself is the same as anyone can watch online or on cable on the NASA channel, watching it on the massive dome screen, surrounded by other space enthusiasts, is what will make this event special, Holmberg said. There will also be NASA giveaways and activities.
“We just want to get people excited about this awesome thing that’s happening,” she said.