SpaceX is ready for its last launch of 2022 and you can watch it live online tonight.
A Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX will send an Israeli imaging Earth satellite into space overnight early Friday (Dec. 30), and you can watch online for free. Liftoff is set for 2:17 a.m. EST (11:17 p.m. PST on Dec. 29 or 0717 GMT) and coverage will be available on SpaceX’s YouTube channel (opens in new tab).
SpaceX will launch the Earth Resources Observation Satellite (EROS)-C3 for the Israel-based company ImageSat International from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. This will be SpaceX’s 61st launch of 2022, nearly doubling the then-record rate of 31 launches set in 2021.
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SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is expected to launch retrograde to (against) the Earth’s rotation and to deploy EROS-C3 in low Earth orbit. The first stage of Falcon 9 will then be commanded to touch down on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean, about eight minutes after launch. This will be the 11th flight for the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage. It previously flew two astronaut flights for NASA, two Starlink missions and six assorted uncrewed commercial and NASA missions.
The EROS-C satellite series “enables defense and intelligence organizations to conduct operations under complete confidentiality and data protection,” according to maker ImageSat International (opens in new tab). It cost about $186 million, according to Spaceflight Now (opens in new tab).
The first-ever EROS satellite, EROS A, was launched in 2000 and reentered Earth’s atmosphere in 2006. Little information is available about the active members of the fleet (EROS-B, EROS-C1 and EROS C2), presumably due to security concerns.
EROS-C3 has a resolution of about one foot (30 centimeters) for greyscale images and two feet (60 cm) for multispectral imagery, according to Everyday Astronaut (opens in new tab). By the end of the decade, it will form part of a quartet of EROS satellites that will work alongside two synthetic aperture radar satellites.
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).