An Ariane 5 rocket will launch two new communications satellites for Saudi Arabia and India today (Feb. 5), and you can watch the liftoff live online!
The Ariane 5, provided by the European launch company Arianespace, will lift off from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana during a 61-minute launch window that opens at 4:01 p.m. EST (2101 GMT). A live webcast with commentary from Arianespace will begin approximately 20 minutes before then.
You can watch the launch live here on Space.com, courtesy of Arianespace, or you can stream it directly from Arianespace's YouTube channel, which offers both English and French versions of the webcast.
Two new telecommunications satellites will hitch a ride to orbit inside the rocket's payload fairing. One of the satellites carries two payloads — the Saudi Geostationary Satellite 1 (SGS-1) and Hellas Sat 4 (HS-4) — on what is known as a "condosat," or a satellite platform that can support a combination of payloads.
The SGS-1/HS-4 combo "will provide telecommunications capabilities, including television, Internet, telephone and secure communications in the Middle East, South Africa and Europe," Arianespace officials said in a description of the mission.
Also launching on today's mission is GSAT-31, a geosynchronous telecommunications satellite built by the Indian Space Research Organization. "By operating GSAT-31, ISRO will – once again – foster the use of space to help bridge the digital divide in the Indian subcontinent as part of its ambitious space program, whose objectives are to develop India while pursuing science research and planetary exploration," Arianespace officials said.
Both satellites, SGS-1/HS-4 and GSAT-31, are designed to last at least 15 years in their geostationary orbits, where they will continuously "hover" above the same part of the globe.
Today's launch will be the first launch of 2019 for Arianespace and the 103rd launch of an Ariane 5 rocket.
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Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at FutureFlight.aero and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at Space.com. As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the Space.com team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.