An Arianespace rocket will send three satellites to orbit today (Dec. 13), and you can watch the whole thing live for free.
An Ariane 5 rocket will launch no earlier than 3:30 p.m. EST (2030 GMT or 5:30 p.m. local time) from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana. The window extends nearly two hours, to 5:16 p.m. EST (2216 GMT or 7:16 p.m. local time.) You can watch live coverage here at Space.com, via Arianespace, and we will drop the link in here when it is available.
The rocket’s star payload is Eumetsat’s Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) Imager-1, which will allow for “rapid detection and forecasting of severe weather events,” according to an Arianespace statement (opens in new tab). The newest generation of these satellites includes two new instruments, an imager and a lightning imager, for higher-quality data to improve weather forecasting, according to a European Space Agency (ESA) statement (opens in new tab).
Related: Ariane 5 rocket launches biggest Eutelsat satellite ever
The rocket will also boost the Galaxy 35 and Galaxy 36 geosynchronous communications to orbit on behalf of Intelsat, to replace the aging Galaxy 3C and Galaxy 28 satellites, respectively. (Intelsat has been refreshing its satellite fleet since 2020, and these satellites are the fifth and sixth of the refresh series.)
The satellites “will provide dedicated North American links to broadcasters, allowing them to air live events and programs including sports, entertainment and breaking news coverage,” Arianespace officials stated.
The Ariane 5 ECA variant being used for the launch is on the taller side this time around, ESA officials note. (ECA stands for Evolved Cryogenic, model A.)
The 173-foot (53-meter) rocket for this launch sports a “raising cylinder” below the fairing in which the satellites are stored, along with an adapter that allow the Intelsat satellites to be stacked above. Ariane 5 ECA can range between 166 to 174 feet (50.5 to 53 meters), according to ESA and Arianespace statistics.
Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of “Why Am I Taller (opens in new tab)?” (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book about space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook (opens in new tab).