SpaceX plans to launch a commercial communications satellite early Thursday morning (March 16), and you can watch the liftoff live.
The EchoStar 23 satellite is scheduled to lift off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from historic Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida Thursday at 1:35 a.m. EDT (0535 GMT). You can watch the spaceflight action live at http://www.spacex.com/webcast.
You can also watch the launch here, courtesy of SpaceX. The webcast will begin at 1:15 a.m. EDT (0515 GMT).
The EchoStar 23 launch was originally supposed to occur Tuesday (March 14), but SpaceX scrubbed that attempt because of strong winds. There's a 90 percent chance that the weather will be good enough to allow a liftoff on this next try, which features a 2.5-hour-long launch window, SpaceX representatives said.
Thursday's launch will be the first SpaceX mission in nearly two years that doesn't feature a landing attempt by a Falcon 9 first stage. (SpaceX has successfully brought eight such stages back to Earth to date, as part of the company's quest to develop reusable rockets.) EchoStar 23 is so heavy (6 tons) and is going so high up (to geostationary transfer orbit) that the Falcon 9 won't have enough fuel left over to pull off a landing, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has said.
EchoStar 23 will be SpaceX's second mission to blast off from Pad 39A, which hosted most of NASA's Apollo moon launches and space shuttle liftoffs. SpaceX signed a 20-year lease for the pad in 2014 and christened the site last month with a launch that sent the company's robotic Dragon cargo capsule toward the International Space Station on a resupply run for NASA.
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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.