A new, space-station-bound crew will lift off early Wednesday morning (Oct. 19), and Europe's Schiaparelli landing capsule will touch down on the surface of Mars later that day — and you can watch both events live online, courtesy of NASA and the European Space Agency.
First, at 4:05 a.m. EDT (0805 GMT), NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko will launch on a two-day journey to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Coverage will start at 3:15 a.m. EDT (0715 GMT).
Then, starting at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT), the European Space Agency will broadcast coverage of its ExoMars mission's emissary to the surface of the Red Planet, which will touch down over the course of about 6 minutes starting at 10:42 a.m. EDT (1442 GMT). The lander, and the Trace Gas Orbiter, which will remain in Mars orbit, launched from the same Kazakhstan location in March. [Parachutes, Sky Cranes and More: 5 Ways to Land on Mars]
The ExoMars orbiter and lander split apart three days ago, after a seven-month trip to the planet. The lander will test out technologies that are intended for use in an ExoMars rover that will launch in 2020 — using heat shields, a 39-foot (12 meters) parachute and its thrusters to slow its descent before dropping to the ground. Over its first few days on the planet, before its battery winds down, the lander will measure Mars' wind speed and direction, humidity, pressure and electric fields, plus the atmosphere's transparency and temperature, and send those measurements up to the orbiter.
As for the space station trip, the three new crewmembers will travel in their Russian Soyuz spacecraft for two days, testing upgraded systems on the craft, before docking to the station at 5:59 a.m. EDT Friday (0959 GMT). The hatches will open and the current space station residents will greet the new arrivals at 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT). (Those events will also be live-streamed on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV.)
It is Kimbrough's second spaceflight; he launched on the space shuttle in 2008 to help assemble the space station — the crew added a bathroom, kitchen, two bedrooms, an exercise machine and water-recycling machine to the station, according to a NASA document. Borisenko is on his second trip to the space station, and this mission is Ryzhikov's first flight into space. All three of them will return home in February.
The new crew arrival will bring the space station's numbers back up to six; NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi and Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin have been alone on the station since Sept. 6.