You can watch SpaceX launch a 40-satellite rideshare rocket to space today (Image Credit: Space.com)
SpaceX and Rocket Lab plan to launch back to back missions on Friday and Saturday and you can watch them both live online.
The space action begins Friday (April 1) with a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, which will carry 40 satellites to orbit for a variety of customers, weather permitting. Liftoff is set for 12:24 p.m. EDT (1624 GMT).
Forecasts currently predict just a 30% chance of weather good enough for liftoff, SpaceX tweeted on Thursday (March 31). SpaceX routinely reuses rockets already, and its Friday mission, called Transporter 4, will continue that trend.
The Falcon 9’s first stage will come back to Earth shortly after liftoff and land on an autonomous droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean, if all goes according to plan. The first stage of the Falcon 9 flying on Friday already has six launches and landings under its belt, according to a mission description.
On Saturday (April 2), less than 24 hours after SpaceX’s launch, a Rocket Lab Electron vehicle is now scheduled to loft two Earth-observing satellites for the American company BlackSky on at 8:10 a.m. EDT (1210 GMT) from Rocket Lab’s New Zealand site.
Rocket Lab initially planned to launch the mission on Friday, but announced a flight delay late Thursday.
“Now targeting April 02 for launch to avoid bad weather,” Rocket Lab wrote in a Twitter update.
The Rocket Lab launch, dubbed “Without Mission a Beat,” will be the 25th Electron launch overall. If all goes according to plan, it will bring the number of satellites delivered to orbit by California-based Rocket Lab to 112, according to a company mission description.
Rocket Lab has been working to make the two-stage Electron’s first stage reusable, bringing boosters down for soft ocean splashdowns and recoveries on several previous missions. There will be no such activities on “Without Mission a Beat,” however.
The two launches on Friday and Saturday are part of a very busy and exciting weekend for space fans. Friday also marks the start of the three-day-long “wet dress rehearsal” for NASA’s Artemis 1 mission, which will use a huge Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to send an uncrewed Orion capsule around the moon.
During the wet dress rehearsal, Artemis 1 team members will go through many of their prelaunch procedures, including fueling up the SLS. If all goes well with the test, Artemis 1 could get off the ground as early as May or June.
Editor’s note: This story, originally posted on Thursday, has been updated to reflect Rocket Lab’s launch delay to April 2 due to weather.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.