East Coast may see Friday night launch of NASA rocket

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WALLOPS ISLAND, VA (CNN) – A rocket carrying a NASA moon orbiter will be visible to much of the eastern U.S. seaboard if the sky is clear Friday night, when it will be launched from Virginia, officials said.

The 90-foot tall rocket could be highly visible from the Carolinas to northern Maine and as far inland as West Virginia and Pittsburgh, authorities in Maryland said.

The launch is scheduled for 11:27 p.m. ET at the Wallops Flight Facility at Wallops Island. It can be watched live on NASA TV, with programming beginning at 9:30 p.m. Backup days have been set if Friday’s launch is scrubbed.

The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer is designed to “orbit the moon to gather detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface and environmental influences on lunar dust,” NASA said.

“A thorough understanding of these characteristics will address long-standing unknowns, and help scientists understand other planetary bodies as well,” NASA said.

By Michael Martinez

CNN’s Diane Ruggiero contributed to this report.

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