Air Force sending 29 satellites into space at once
- Rocket to carry one big satellite, 28 little ones
- CubeSats are small, 3-pound nanosatellites
- One CubeSat was made by high school students
- The main payload satellite will conduct experiments on its expected 13-month mission
(CNN) -- Look to the heavens along the East Coast on Tuesday night, and you might be able to see the Air Force blast 29 satellites into orbit at once.
The 29 satellites, the most ever launched at one time, will be aboard a single Minotaur I rocket scheduled to lift off from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia at 7:30 p.m. They include the main payload, the Air Force's Space Test Program Satellite-3, and 28 tiny satellites called CubeSats.
The CubeSats are aptly named. Also called nanosatellites, they are small cubes, about 4 inches on each side, weighing about 3 pounds and with a volume of about a quart.
Among the CubeSats is the TJ3Sat, built by the students of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia. It will be the first satellite made by high-schoolers to go into space.
Once in orbit, the "TJ3Sat will allow students and amateur radio users the opportunity to send and receive data from the satellite. Students and other users from around the world will be able to submit text strings to be uploaded to the TJ3Sat website," according to Orbital Sciences Corp, the developer and manufacturer of the Minotaur rocket.
The students have been working on the TJ3Sat for seven years, according to Orbital.
Lost world -- what happened to Mars?
The Air Force satellite that is the main payload will conduct a variety of experiments during its expected 13-month mission.
The launch will also be evaluated as part of a certification process of the Minotaur rocket for commercial use. That process is being conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA says.
Falling satellite burns up upon re-entry
Orbital says the 29 satellites should achieve orbit in a little less than 12½ minutes after the rocket ignites.
NASA says the launch may be visible from northern Florida to southern Canada and as far west as Indiana.
If you can't see the launch from where you are, it will be streamed by NASA live.
NASA releases new photo of Saturn, Earth
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
December 5, 2014 -- Updated 1710 GMT (0110 HKT)
An uncrewed test flight will send Orion 3,600 miles above Earth, farther into space than any craft designed for astronauts has gone since the last Apollo moon mission more than 40 years ago.
December 1, 2014 -- Updated 1402 GMT (2202 HKT)
The University of Colorado Boulder has announced a discovery 7,200 miles above Earth of a protective shield similar to the force fields you might see in "Star Trek."
November 28, 2014 -- Updated 0058 GMT (0858 HKT)
The International Space Station's 3-D printer will create objects that can be used by those living in the station.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 1422 GMT (2222 HKT)
Shrimp crawling around rock chimneys spewing hot water deep in the Caribbean Sea may hold clues to the kinds of life that can thrive in extreme environments on other planets, NASA says.
November 15, 2014 -- Updated 2119 GMT (0519 HKT)
It's hard to top the tricky, first-ever landing on a comet but we'll try. Here are 11 other space missions to know about.
November 7, 2014 -- Updated 2321 GMT (0721 HKT)
Add another entry to the growing list of crazy footage captured by GoPro cameras.
November 1, 2014 -- Updated 1700 GMT (0100 HKT)
It is in our DNA to explore the unknown. But pushing boundaries and exploring space is far from easy.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1542 GMT (2342 HKT)
If there's one thing we've learned about the CNN iReport community, it's that you all love to capture celestial events.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 0025 GMT (0825 HKT)
Want to ride an elevator into space? A breakthrough in nanotechnology could mean we will be riding into space on a cable made of diamonds.
October 7, 2014 -- Updated 1752 GMT (0152 HKT)
Astronauts lie motionless in a row of compartments with medical monitoring cables connected to their bodies, as their space ship cuts through the silent blackness.
September 20, 2014 -- Updated 1929 GMT (0329 HKT)
Scientists are closer to seeing a vast, invisible universe as a spectrometer in Earth orbit picks up possible clues of dark matter.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
The Soviets sent stray dogs up to conquer space. This is what happened next
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0920 GMT (1720 HKT)
Scientists believe that a hot gas bubble was formed by multiple supernovas.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1547 GMT (2347 HKT)
Life aboard the International Space Station.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0153 GMT (0953 HKT)
NASA's New Horizons mission hurtles toward Pluto in historic 3 billion mile expedition.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 0356 GMT (1156 HKT)
Scientists looking for signs of life in the universe -- as well as another planet like our own -- are a lot closer to their goal than people realize.
June 29, 2014 -- Updated 1551 GMT (2351 HKT)
If you think you saw a flying saucer over Hawaii, you might not be crazy -- except what you saw didn't come from outer space, though that may be its ultimate destination.
June 13, 2014 -- Updated 1421 GMT (2221 HKT)
When I first poked my head inside Virgin Galactic's newest spaceship, I felt a little like I was getting a front-row seat to space history.
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
From a sheep ranch in Western Australia comes the oldest slice of Earth we know.