Watch live Saturday! Rocket Lab and SpaceX host predawn launch double header

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Rocket Lab is planning to launch several satellites into orbit early Saturday (June 13) morning for a rideshare mission dubbed “Don’t Stop Me Now.” 

The private spaceflight company’s Electron rocket, loaded with a variety of small satellites, will lift off from the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand during a 1-hour and 49-minute launch window that opens at 12:43 a.m. EDT (0443 GMT)

Rocket Lab will provide a live webcast of the launch beginning about 20 minutes before liftoff. You can watch it live here in the window above, courtesy of Rocket Lab, or at www.rocketlabusa.com/live-stream. (In the meantime, you can watch a replay of Rocket Lab’s previous mission, named “Birds of a Feather,” which launched on Jan. 30.)

Among the payloads on board are three satellites for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office; NASA’s ANDESITE (Ad-Hoc Network Demonstration for Extended Satellite-Based Inquiry and Other Team Endeavors) cubesat, which will study Earth’s magnetosphere and space weather; and the Australian M2 Pathfinder satellite, which will test communications and other new technologies in orbit.  

‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ is a rideshare mission that will launch several small satellites, including the ANDESITE (Ad-Hoc Network Demonstration for Extended Satellite-Based Inquiry and Other Team Endeavors) satellite created by electrical and mechanical engineering students and professors at Boston University. The satellite will launch as part of NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) and will conduct groundbreaking scientific study into Earth’s magnetic field. Once in space, the ANDESITE satellite will initiate measurements of the magnetosphere with onboard sensors, later releasing eight pico satellites carrying small magnetometer sensors to track electric currents flowing in and out of the atmosphere, a phenomenon also known as space weather. These variations in the electrical activity racing through space can have a big impact on our lives here on Earth, causing interruptions to things like radio communications and electrical systems. The ANDESITE satellite follows on from Rocket Lab’s first ELaNa (Educational Launch of Nanosatellites) launch for NASA, the ELaNa-19 mission, which launched a host of educational satellites to orbit on Electron in December 2018.

The mission also carries three payloads designed, built and operated by the NRO. The mission was procured under the agency’s Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket (RASR) contract vehicle. RASR allows the NRO to explore new launch opportunities that provide a streamlined, commercial approach for getting small satellites into space, as well as provide those working in the small satellite community with timely and cost-effective access to space. This mission follows Rocket Lab’s first dedicated mission for the NRO, Birds of a Feather, which was launched on 31 January 2020 NZT from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1.

The ANDESITE and NRO payloads will be joined on the mission by the M2 Pathfinder satellite, a collaboration between the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra Space and the Australian Government. The M2 Pathfinder will test communications architecture and other technologies that will assist in informing the future space capabilities of Australia. The satellite will demonstrate the ability of an onboard software-based radio to operate and reconfigure while in orbit.

The mission has been named ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ in recognition of Rocket Lab board member and avid Queen fan Scott Smith, who recently passed away.

Rocket Lab will not be carrying out any recovery testing on the Electron launch vehicle during this mission.

The private spaceflight company SpaceX will launch 58 new Starlink internet satellites into orbit along with three Planet SkySat Earth imaging satellites on Saturday, June 13, at 5:21 a.m. EDT (0921 GMT). 

SpaceX will launch the Starlink/Planet rideshare mission on a used Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Falcon 9 first stage on this mission has flown twice, launching the CRS-19 and CRS-2- Dragon cargo missions for NASA in December 2019 and March 2020, respectively. 

This mission will mark SpaceX’s first flight under the company’s new rideshare program. As such, it is carrying three Earth-imaging SkySats for customer Planet along with 58 Starlink satellites (down from the typical 60). 

SpaceX plans to recover the Falcon 9 first stage with a landing on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic Ocean.

Find out what the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station are up to by tuning in to the “ISS Live” broadcast. Hear conversations between the crew and mission controllers on Earth and watch them work inside the U.S. segment of the orbiting laboratory. When the crew is off duty, you can enjoy live views of Earth from Space. You can watch and listen in the window below, courtesy of NASA.

“Live video from the International Space Station includes internal views when the crew is on-duty and Earth views at other times. The video is accompanied by audio of conversations between the crew and Mission Control. This video is only available when the space station is in contact with the ground. During ‘loss of signal’ periods, viewers will see a blue screen.

“Since the station orbits the Earth once every 90 minutes, it experiences a sunrise or a sunset about every 45 minutes. When the station is in darkness, external camera video may appear black, but can sometimes provide spectacular views of lightning or city lights below.” 

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