A European rocket will launch two communications satellites to orbit Wednesday evening (June 22), and you can watch the action live.
An Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket is scheduled to lift off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on Wednesday during a 100-minute window that opens at 5:03 p.m. EDT (2103 GMT; 6:03 p.m. local time in Kourou).
You can watch live here at Space.com courtesy of Arianespace, or directly via the company (opens in new tab), which is based in France.
Ariane 5: Europe’s heavy-lift rocket
The heavy-lift Ariane 5 — the same type of rocket that launched NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope on Dec. 25, 2021 — is carrying two payloads on the coming mission, both of them communications satellites. One of them, called MEASAT-3d, will be operated by the Malaysian telecom company MEASAT.
“This new satellite will significantly enhance broadband speeds of up to 100 Mbps [megabits per second] in areas with limited or no terrestrial network throughout Malaysia while continuing to provide redundancy and additional capacity for video distribution in HD, 4K and ultimately 8K in the Asia-Pacific region,” Arianespace representatives wrote in a mission description (opens in new tab).
The other satellite flying on Wednesday, GSAT-24, will be operated by NewSpace India Limited.
“This satellite will provide high-quality television, telecommunications and broadcasting services and will meet the DTH [direct to home] needs of Indian customers,” Arianespace representatives wrote.
MEATSAT-3d was built by Airbus Defence and Space and GSAT-24 was built by the Indian Space Research Organisation. The satellites have mission design lifetimes of at least 18 years and 15 years, respectively. The two payloads have a combined mass of 23,949 pounds (10,863 kilograms), according to Arianespace.
There will be no rocket landing to watch for on Wednesday; the Ariane 5 is an expendable launch vehicle, unlike SpaceX’s Falcon 9, which features a reusable first stage.
Wednesday’s liftoff will be the second of the year for Arianespace. The company’s other launch in 2022 occurred in February, and it sent 34 of OneWeb’s internet satellites to orbit aboard a Russian-built Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
More Arianespace-operated Soyuz flights were scheduled to launch during the first half of this year, but the partnership between the company and Russia dissolved after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
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).