Science

Watch Rocket Lab launch a US spy satellite early Tuesday

Rocket Lab will launch a US spy satellite in the early hours of Tuesday (August 2) for you to watch live.

The Electron booster is to launch a payload for the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) from New Zealand’s Rocket Lab on Tuesday during a two-hour window that opens at 1:00 AM EDT (05:00 GMT; 17:00 local time in New Zealand). .

Watch it live here on Space.com, courtesy of Rocket Lab, or directly through the company. (will open in a new tab).

Related: Rocket Lab and its Electron booster (photo)

Tuesday morning’s mission, which Rocket Lab is calling “The Antipodal Adventure”, will lift NROL-199, a national security satellite built jointly by the NRO and the Australian Department of Defense (AUS DoD), aloft.

“The payload will help NRO provide critical information to government agencies and decision makers tracking international issues,” Rocket Lab’s mission statement says. (will open in a new tab).

NROL-199 will be the second of two Department of Defense NRO-AUS missions to be launched on Electron at a relatively short notice. Rocket Lab also launched the NROL-162 satellite from New Zealand on July 13th.

“Antipodean Adventure” will be the 29th launch of the 58-foot (19 meters) Electron. The launch vehicle was designed to deliver small satellites into Earth orbit, but Rocket Lab is expanding its research profile. For example, Electron recently launched NASA’s CAPSTONE probe to the Moon, and the company plans to send one or more life-search missions to Venus in the coming years.

Rocket Lab is also working to make the Electron first stage reusable and recover boosters from several recent flights for testing and analysis. The company even (briefly) caught the falling Electron first stage using a helicopter on May 2 during a mission called “There and Back Again.”

There will be no recovery (will open in a new tab) however, in “The Antipodal Adventure”; The first stage of the Electron will fall into the ocean shortly after launch.

Mike Wall is the author of Out There (will open in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrations by Carl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or on facebook (will open in a new tab).

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