A new Indian rocket is scheduled to launch for the first time on Saturday night (Aug. 6), and you can watch the debut live.
The country's Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) is scheduled to lift off Saturday at 11:48 p.m. EDT (0348 GMT and 9:18 a.m. India Standard Time on Sunday, Aug. 7) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre on India's southeastern coast. Watch it live here at Space.com, courtesy of the India Space Research Organisation (ISRO), or directly via ISRO (opens in new tab).
The SSLV is a four-stage rocket that stands 112 feet (34 meters) tall. It's capable of delivering up to 1,100 pounds (500 kilograms) to low Earth orbit, according to an ISRO description (opens in new tab).
On this first flight, a test launch called SSLV-D1/EOS-02, the rocket will be carrying two satellites: the 300-pound (135 kg) EOS-02 Earth-observation satellite and an 18-pound (8 kg) cubesat called AzaadiSAT.
EOS-02 will provide high-resolution infrared imagery of our planet, ISRO officials said. AzaadiSAT carries 75 different payloads, each of which weighs about 1.8 ounces (50 grams). The cubesat payloads were built by female students around India and were integrated into AzaadiSAT by students with an organization called Space Kidz India.
The AzaadiSAT payloads will conduct a variety of "femto-experiments." One will measure space radiation levels, for example, whereas another will enable voice and data transmission over ham-radio frequencies. The cubesat also carries a selfie camera, ISRO officials said.
Once the SSLV gets its wings, India will have three operational orbital rockets in its fleet. The two already flying are the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), both of which are bigger and more powerful than the SSLV.
Mike Wall is the author of "Out There (opens in new tab)" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).