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Watch India Launch a New Earth-Watching Satellite Tonight!

India is launching a new Earth-observation satellite today (May 21), and you can watch it lift off live online!

The spacecraft, called Radar Imaging Satellite-2B (RISAT-2B), will lift off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India on an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle at 7:57 p.m. EDT (2357 GMT, or 5:27 a.m. local time on May 22). If all goes well, the satellite will separate from the rocket's fourth stage about 15 minutes after liftoff and begin its five-year mission. 

You can watch a live webcast of the mission here, courtesy of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The webcast will begin about 30 minutes before liftoff.

Related: India Follows Anti-Satellite Missile Test with 29-Satellite Launch 

India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C46) stands tall on the launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India, ahead of the planned launch of the RISAT-2B Earth-observing satellite.

(Image credit: ISRO)

RISAT-2B will be the third radar imaging satellite in India's RISAT series, which is the country's first line of indigenous all-weather satellites. The first two RISAT satellites launched in 2009 and 2012, though RISAT-1 has been out of commission since 2017. ISRO plans to eventually launch a whole constellation of RISAT satellites, an ISRO official told The Hindu.

The RISAT-2B mission is designed to spend at least five years orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 346 miles (557 kilometers) while imaging the planet with an X-band synthetic aperture radar. This instrument can be used for weather monitoring and other reconnaissance capabilities. Unlike optical imaging systems, radar imagers can "see" through thick clouds and dark skies to map the terrain below, and those radar images can be useful for agriculture, forestry and disaster relief management, ISRO officials said in a description of the mission

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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