The United States plans to launch a hush-hush spy satellite Saturday (Jan. 19), and you can watch the liftoff live.
The NROL-71 spacecraft is scheduled to launch atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base at 2:05 p.m. EST (1905 GMT; 11:05 a.m. local California time). You can watch it live here at Space.com, courtesy of ULA, or directly via the launch provider.
The webcast will be brief; ULA is expected to cut off the live feed after about 6 minutes, to help preserve the secrecy of NROL-71's mission. (The satellite's instruments and activities are classified, as are those of other spacecraft operated by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.)
Saturday's liftoff is a long time coming. NROL-71 was originally scheduled to take flight in early December, but technical issues and uncooperative weather pushed the launch back multiple times.
Then, ULA nixed a Dec. 19 attempt after noticing a hydrogen leak coming from the Delta IV Heavy. That issue ended up taking several weeks to resolve.
Saturday's liftoff will be the second in five-plus months for the 232-foot-tall (71 meters) Delta IV Heavy, ULA's most powerful rocket. A Delta IV Heavy also lofted NASA's Parker Solar Probe in August 2018.
Mike Wall's book about the search for alien life, "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate) is out now. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us @Spacedotcom or Facebook. Originally published on Space.com.