A powerful European rocket will launch a big communications satellite to orbit from South America on Wednesday (Sept. 7), and you can watch it live.
An Ariane 5 rocket carrying the Eutelsat Konnect VHTS satellite is scheduled to lift off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana Wednesday during a 66-minute window that opens at 5:45 p.m. EDT (2145 GMT). Watch it live here at Space.com, courtesy of Arianespace, or directly via the French company (opens in new tab), which operates the Ariane 5.
Wednesday’s launch will be the second of 2022 for the 166-foot-tall (50.5 meters) Ariane 5 and Arianespace’s third of the year overall. It will send Konnect VHTS (short for “very high throughput satellite”) to geostationary transfer orbit for French satellite operator Eutelsat, if all goes according to plan.
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Eutelsat Konnect VHTS is the largest satellite ever built by French-Italian aerospace manufacturer Thales Alenia Space, Arianespace representatives wrote in a mission description (opens in new tab). The spacecraft tips the scales at 7 tons (6.4 metric tons) and is about 29 feet (8.8 m) tall, and it packs a lot of performance into that large frame.
“With an instantaneous rate of 500 Gbps [gigabits per second], Eutelsat Konnect VHTS will provide high-speed internet access throughout Europe, in particular in isolated regions with low coverage, offering a service comparable to fiber optic networks in terms of performance and cost, thus making a significant contribution to bridging the digital divide,” Arianespace wrote in the mission description.
“Eutelsat Konnect VHTS will also address the broadband connectivity needs of fixed and mobile telecommunications networks, on land, sea or in the air,” they added.
Wednesday evening’s launch is one of just a handful remaining for the venerable Ariane 5, which debuted in the mid-1990s and has more than 100 missions under its belt. Arianespace is developing the rocket’s successor, the Ariane 6, which is expected to fly for the first time next year.
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).