Rocket launch on Tuesday may be visible from New Jersy, other eastern states. Ready to see something streaking across the sky this week? If you look up at the right time, you might catch a glimpse of a rocket that’s scheduled to be launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Tuesday morning, June 15.
The Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Minotaur 1 rocket is set to lift off at 7 a.m., and NASA says it may be visible from many eastern states, including New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
NASA says the rocket will carry three national security payloads for the National Reconnaissance Office and the launch is being coordinated by the U.S. Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s Launch Enterprise.
According to a map provided by NASA, the rocket may be visible from anywhere in New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania and New York City from 30 to 60 seconds after liftoff.
As with previous launches from the Wallops facility, clear skies and a clear view of the southeast horizon are essential for people in New Jersey to have a shot at seeing the rocket.
A live video stream of the mission countdown and launch is set to get underway at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday on the Wallops YouTube site. NASA is planning to provide launch updates on the Wallops Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Why did it take so long for N.J. to close the door on scandal-ridden women’s prison?
It took a long time for Gov. Phil Murphy to decide to shut down the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility, New Jersey’s troubled women’s prison.
But once a scathing report into the continuing sexual violence at the century-old complex was released, the decision came quickly.
Senior administration sources, speaking on background, said closing the prison had been discussed long before the governor ultimately took action Monday. The decision to shut it down took on added urgency after the detailed look into years of abuse and sexual assaults, and criminal charges against guards, one source said in offering a behind-the-scenes perspective of what sparked the move.
“This was something on everyone’s mind for a while,” a source noted. But after the governor’s staff and others got their first look at the highly critical independent report by former state comptroller Matthew Boxer, he said the governor made the call to close the site in rural Hunterdon County.
“There was an inflection point. The recommendation (in the report) that stood out to us was to close the facility and we decided to embrace the recommendation,” said another administration source, describing the discussions among members of the governor’s leadership team, Murphy himself, and top officials in the state Department of Corrections.
Embattled state Corrections Commissioner Marcus O. Hicks, who resigned under pressure on Tuesday morning, had not been in on those discussions, the source said.
Read the full investigative report on Edna Mahan here
The report concluded corrections officials were slow to enact reforms, didn’t follow their own policies, and that officers used excessive force and filed false reports after a series of violent cell extractions in January.
Problems at Edna Mahan have been well documented over the years, despite it being a relatively small facility that holds approximately 372 prisoners, including 94 women in the minimum-security complex and 278 in the maximum-security area.
Some of those issues had been repeatedly raised in reporting by NJ Advance Media in 2017 and 2018, with horrific stories of inmates who claimed they were beaten or sexually abused by a guard who was fired but never criminally charged. The allegations, which went back as far as 2008, included charges of staff members abusing prisoners and exchanging contraband for sex. Inmates said officers and administrators were complicit in covering it up.
A criminal probe by county prosecutors and an independent investigation ordered by the state attorney general followed in 2017.
Former state Corrections Commissioner Gary Lanigan, who had been appointed by then-Gov. Chris Christie and asked to stay on under Murphy, was ousted amid the ongoing inquiry. He would be replaced by Hicks, his chief of staff.
When Hicks was being reconfirmed as commissioner early last year, he told lawmakers his “number one priority” would be fixing the problems at Edna Mahan. Yet he wasn’t even clear on who ran the facility in the months leading up to the alleged attacks, according to a stunning revelation in the Boxer report.
An ongoing federal inquiry put additional pressure on the state.
Last year the U.S. Department of Justice concluded that prisoners at Edna Mahan had been victims of sexual abuse by officers for years and that abuse persisted even under new and heightened scrutiny.
Despite reforms ordered in the wake of the federal inquiry, however, multiple women prisoners were attacked by officers in January — an incident that was not publicly disclosed until NJ Advance Media reported later that month that dozens who worked at the prison had been suspended for their roles during a night of violence in a special unit.
Two days later, Murphy tapped Boxer, an attorney with the law firm of Lowenstein Sandler, to conduct an investigation into the incident