The private spaceflight company SpaceX will blast a commercial telecommunications satellite into orbit in the wee hours of Tuesday morning (Aug. 5), and you can watch all the action live online.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to launch the AsiaSat 8 satellite at 1:25 a.m. EDT (0525 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. You can watch the launch webcast here, courtesy of SpaceX, beginning at 1:10 a.m. EDT (0510 GMT).
If all goes according to plan on Tuesday, the Falcon 9 rocket will carry AsiaSat 8 to a highly elliptical geosynchronous transfer orbit. The satellite will eventually make its way to a geosynchronous orbit about 22,300 miles (35,900 kilometers) above Asia; from there, it will provide a variety of telecom services for the next 15 years, SpaceX officials said.
The spacecraft will be the most powerful member of AsiaSat's fleet, said representatives of the Hong Kong-based firm, whose full name is Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company Limited.
SpaceX has conducted reusability tests during three recent Falcon 9 launches, attempting to bring the rocket's first stage back for a soft ocean splashdown in September 2013, April 2014 and last month. These efforts are part of the company's quest to develop a fully and rapidly reusable rocket launch system, which SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has said could dramatically cut the cost of spaceflight.
But the AsiaSat 8 launch will not feature a reusability test, SpaceX representatives said. The next such attempt will likely come in September with the launch of SpaceX's robotic Dragon capsule on a resupply mission to the International Space Station. That mission will be the fourth of 12 unmanned flights to the space station as part of a $1.6 billion cargo delivery deal with NASA.
The next Dragon launch will probably feature another ocean splashdown. But after that, SpaceX will likely attempt to bring the Falcon 9 first stage back softly on dry land, or on a pad in the ocean. Company representatives have said they hope to accomplish this big milestone by the end of the year.
You can track SpaceX's early-morning launch via our partner Spaceflight Now, which will provide up-to-the-minute information on the flight through its Mission Status Center. You can also follow SpaceX's Twitter page for launch updates.
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Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.