Update for 5 p.m. EDT: SpaceX has delayed the launch of the Amos-17 mission by 30 minutes to monitor weather conditions at the launch site. Liftoff is now scheduled for 7:23 p.m. EDT (2323 GMT), weather permitting.
Today (Aug. 6) is going to be a big day in space!
After a Cygnus cargo spacecraft departs the International Space Station this afternoon, SpaceX (opens in new tab) and Arianespace (opens in new tab) will be launching a total of three new communications satellites into orbit. You can watch all three events live here at Space.com (opens in new tab).
First up: Cygnus undocking (12:15 p.m. ET)
First, the Cygnus cargo ship will undock from the space station at 12:15 p.m. EDT (1615 GMT). NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch will use the station's Canadarm2 robotic arm to release the vessel into the vacuum of space. NASA TV will provide live coverage of the send-off beginning 15 minutes prior to its departure.
The Cygnus arrived at the space station in April (opens in new tab) with 7,600 lbs. (3,447 kilograms) of supplies and experiments for the astronauts on board. Instead of heading straight toward Earth to burn up in the atmosphere, as departing cargo ships typically do, this Cygnus will stay in orbit for a few months to test a new cubesat-deploying contraption called "SlingShot (opens in new tab)."
Above is a video of the last time a Cygnus spacecraft returned to Earth.
Ariane 5 rocket launch (3:30 p.m. ET)
Next, the European launch provider Arianespace will launch two communications satellites on an Ariane 5 rocket (opens in new tab). It will lift off from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana at 3:30 p.m. EDT (1930 GMT). This will be the first launch for Arianespace since the company's Vega rocket experienced a launch failure in July.
For this mission, Arianespace is launching the Intelsat 39 telecommunications satellite, which will serve "broadband networking, video and government customers across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Indian Ocean region," according to Arianespace's description of the mission (opens in new tab).
The second satellite, named EDRS-C, will be the second satellite of the "SpaceDataHighway" — also known as the European Data Relay System (opens in new tab) — and will provide high-speed laser communications between satellites in low Earth orbit and ground tracking stations down on Earth. It will enable near-real-time processing of images and data from various Earth-observing satellites.
A live webcast of this launch will begin about 15 minutes prior to liftoff. You can watch it here on Space.com (opens in new tab), courtesy of Arianespace, or directly via the company's YouTube (opens in new tab).
This launch window is open until 5:51 p.m. EDT (2151 GMT). The Intelsat 29 satellite is expected to deploy 29 minutes after liftoff, and EDRS-C will follow just 4 minutes later.
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch (6:52 p.m. ET)
Last but not least, SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 rocket with the Amos-17 satellite (opens in new tab). Amos-17 is a communications satellite built by Boeing for Spacecom Ltd. of Israel, and it will provide broadband connectivity over Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
The Falcon 9 rocket will lift off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station during a 1-hour, 28-minute launch window that opens at 6:52 p.m. EDT (2252 GMT). The mission was delayed from last week after SpaceX discovered a valve issue (opens in new tab) with the Falcon 9.
- Space Launch Calendar 2019: Sky Events, Missions & More (opens in new tab)
- SpaceX Delays Launch of Amos-17 Communications Satellite for Israel's Spacecom (opens in new tab)
- Cygnus Cargo Spaceship Makes Easter Delivery to International Space Station (opens in new tab)
Email Hanneke Weitering at email@example.com (opens in new tab) or follow her @hannekescience (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) and on Facebook (opens in new tab).