Update for 7 a.m. EDT on Saturday, June 13: Two of the three private rocket launches scheduled for today have successfully launched! Here's a look at Rocket Lab's successful five-satellite launch and here's a recap of SpaceX's dazzling predawn launch Starlink and Planet satellites.
In the next 24 hours, no less than three rockets — built by Rocket Lab (opens in new tab), SpaceX and Interstellar Technologies — will launch from three different countries in a space age triple-header. But if you want to watch them all online, you're going to need to stay up late (or rise super early).
The action will begin early Saturday (June 13) with the launch of a Rocket Lab Electron booster carrying five small satellites for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, NASA and the University of South Wales Canberra Space.
Liftoff is scheduled for 12:43 a.m. EDT (0443 GMT) from Rocket Lab's Launch Site 1 on the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand. You'll be able to watch the launch live on Space.com here (opens in new tab), courtesy of Rocket Lab. The webcast should begin about 20 minutes before launch time. However, Rocket Lab has a nearly two-hour window in which to launch the Electron booster, so the start time could change closer to liftoff.
Rocket Lab will webcast the launch here (opens in new tab), as well as on its YouTube channel.
The mission, called "Don't Stop Me Now," will carry three classified satellites for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office; the ANDESITE cubesat built by Boston Universty under NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative; and the M2 Pathfinder communications satellite, which is a a collaboration between the University of New South Wales Canberra Space and the Australian government.
Originally scheduled to fly in March, the "Don't Stop Me Now" mission has been delayed for more two months due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. A launch attempt early Thursday (June 11) was delayed due to high winds.
SpaceX's Starlink rideshare flight
The next launch in the triple header will come from SpaceX, which will launch a used Falcon 9 rocket packed with Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Liftoff is set for Saturday at 5:21 a.m. EDT (0921 GMT).
You can watch the launch live on Space.com here (opens in new tab), as well as directly from SpaceX here (opens in new tab). SpaceX will likely also offer a live audio feed from its launch control center on its YouTube channel here (opens in new tab). SpaceX's webcasts typically begin about 15 minutes before liftoff, so plan to tune in just after 5 a.m. EDT (0900 GMT).
The Falcon 9 rocket will carry 58 Starlink internet satellites for SpaceX, as well as three Earth-imaging SkySat satellites for Planet under a rideshare agreement. The launch is the first for SpaceX's smallsat rideshare program.
Saturday's launch comes on the heels of two other SpaceX launches in recent weeks. The company launched 60 Starlink satellites for its growing broadband constellation on June 3. Just days earlier, on May 30, SpaceX launched its first astronauts for NASA on a Crew Dragon spacecraft.
Interstellar Technologies' Momo-F5
The final launch of our space-y Saturday will be of the Momo-F5 rocket built by the Japanese company Interstellar Technologies. The small suborbital sounding rocket is scheduled to launch between 10 p.m. EDT and 11:20 p.m. EDT (0200-0320 GMT) from Taiki Town, Hokkaido, where the local time will be early Sunday morning.
You can watch the launch live above, courtesy of NVS-Neko Video Visual Solutions and the Tokachi Mainichi newspaper. You can also watch directly from NVS here (opens in new tab).
射場では初夏の朝日が力強さを増す中、ランチャーの起立に向けた準備作業が進められています。準備が整うとランチャー起立，推進剤充填準備へと進みます。#えんとつ町のプペルMOMO5号機#インターステラテクノロジズ pic.twitter.com/GV9JADQq4MJune 12, 2020
Interstellar Technologies' Momo rocket stands 32 feet (10 meters) tall and weighs just over 1 metric ton. The company has launched four of the rockets to date with mixed success. Its third launch in May 2019 was the first to succeed, but the fourth fell into the ocean after experiencing an anomaly.
Momo-F5 was originally scheduled to launch in late December and has been delayed several times. It is a crowdfunded mission that aims to reach an altitude of 62 miles (100 kilometers), with Interstellar Technologies raising more than $391,000 (42 million yen), well above the mission's goal of nearly $84,000 (9 million yen), according to a translated statement by Interstellar Technologies (opens in new tab).
Interstellar Technologies has apparently named the launch "Poupelle of Chimney Town" after the book by Akihiro Nishino and is using #PoupelleOfChimneyTownMOMOF5 to refer to the flight online. The company will not allow spectators to watch the launch in person due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
And that's it! That's a lot of rocket launches in less than 24 hours. So rest up, space fans, and don't forget to tune in.
Editor's note: Interstellar Technologies has postponed the launch of its Momo-F5 rocket to Saturday afternoon. This guide has been updated with that new launch time.
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