Rocket lovers, unite! If you’re a fan of spaceflight, then Thursday (August 4th) will be a big day when no less than four different rockets will launch missions from planet Earth.
Rockets built by Rocket Lab, United Launch Alliance, Blue Origin and SpaceX will launch into space today (if all goes well). According to some media reports, the China National Space Administration may also launch two of its own rockets on Thursday.
Related: How Rockets Work: A Complete Guide
The Opposite Adventures of Rocket Lab
Space action kicks off early Thursday (August 4) when Rocket Lab launches a small (and classified) spy satellite for the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The Electron rocket will launch a mission called NROL-199 from Rocket Lab on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.
Launch is scheduled for 1:00 AM EDT (05:00 GMT) and you can watch it on Space.com and on Rocket Lab’s own website. (will open in a new tab). A live stream will appear on this page during launch, and Rocket Lab is expected to start streaming 15 minutes before launch.
The NROL-199 mission, which Rocket Lab calls an “anti-pod adventure,” is the second of two consecutive reconnaissance missions the company is carrying out for NRO. Rocket Lab launched the NROL-162 mission on July 13th.
United Launch Alliance Atlas V launches SBIRS GEO 6
Next on Thursday’s list of launches will be the launch of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. Scheduled for launch at 6:29 AM EST (1029 GMT), the flight will launch the spaceborne infrared system’s sixth and final satellite at geosynchronous Earth orbit for the US Space Force.
Named SBIRS GEO 6 for short, the satellite is intended to serve as a missile detection early warning system for the Space Forces Space Systems Command. It will be launched from Spaceport 41 at the Space Force Station at Cape Canaveral in Florida. ULA will stream the launch live on YouTube and on its website approximately 20 minutes before launch. You can receive launch updates starting at 11:00 pm EDT (03:00 GMT) tonight on the ULA mission page. (will open in a new tab).
“Equipped with powerful scanning and directional infrared surveillance sensors to protect our nation around the clock, the SBIRS spacecraft continues to serve as the spearhead for global missile warning as ballistic missile threats spread around the world,” ULA wrote in a mission review. (will open in a new tab). “These infrared sensors and others in a constellation of permanent satellites collect data that enables the US military to detect missile launches, maintain missile defenses, increase technical intelligence gathering, and improve situational awareness on the battlefield.”
Blue Origin NS-22 space tourist flight
Space tourists will embark on the third mission of the day on Thursday as Blue Origin counts down to its 22nd mission to space.
A Blue Origin New Shepard rocket will launch the NS-22 tourist space flight from the One launch site near Van Horn, Texas. The mission will take six passengers on a journey into suborbital space, offering them stunning views of the Earth below and a few minutes of weightlessness before returning home.
Blue Origin Space Tourist Launches: NS-22 Mission Live Updates
Liftoff of Blue Origin’s NS-22 mission is scheduled for 9:30 AM EST (13:30 GMT), with a live webcast expected one hour earlier at 8:30 AM ET (12:30 PM GMT). Greenwich). You can watch it live on this page and also on YouTube (will open in a new tab) or directly from the Blue Origin website. (will open in a new tab)
The NS-22 will be Blue Origin’s sixth touring space flight since the company began manned launches. Riding this mission will:
- Coby Cotton, co-founder of YouTube channel Dude Perfect;
- Sarah Sabry, founder of the Deep Space Initiative and the first Egyptian woman to fly into space;
- Mario Ferreira, entrepreneur who will become the first Portuguese in space;
- Vanessa O’Brien, Anglo-American explorer who summited Everest and plunged into the Challenger Deep in the ocean;
- Clint Kelly III, founder of the DARPA Autonomous Land Vehicle project to research autonomous driving technology;
- Steve Young is a businessman and restaurateur with the Space Coast Conservation Association.
SpaceX Danuri Lunar Probe Launch for South Korea
SpaceX will close the quartet of rocket launches on Thursday by launching the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter mission for South Korea on a Falcon 9 rocket. Launch is scheduled for 7:08 pm EDT (2308 GMT) from Spaceport 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station during Florida. The SpaceX launch webcast will begin approximately 15 minutes before liftoff on the company’s web page. (will open in a new tab). You can also follow him live on KARI’s YouTube page. (will open in a new tab).
South Korea’s lunar mission, also known as Danuri, is the first in the country’s history to aim beyond low Earth orbit. The mission will send an orbiter to the Moon to study magnetic anomalies on the lunar surface and search for landing sites for future missions.
On the subject: All missions to the moon ever launched
The spacecraft is equipped with six different lunar exploration instruments and is expected to spend a year in lunar orbit studying the lunar magnetic signature, looking for water ice on the surface and testing Earth-Moon communication technologies. The mission is being monitored by scientists from the Korea Aerospace Research Institute.
Danuri will be SpaceX’s second lunar launch, following the company’s 2019 launch of Israel’s Beresheet lunar module. While SpaceX successfully got Bereshit to the moon, the lander built by Israel ended up crashing into the lunar surface. The Israeli Beresheet 2 mission is expected to follow in 2024.
SpaceX will launch the Danuri orbiter on a ballistic trajectory to the moon, with the spacecraft expected to enter orbit about 60 miles (100 kilometers) above the lunar surface.
Launch of two Chinese rockets
As if those four missions weren’t enough, China could launch a new Earth observation satellite and an experimental space plane on two different rockets on Thursday.
Sourced from the Everyday Astronaut website. (will open in a new tab)A Chinese Long March 4B rocket could launch the Terrestrial Ecosystem Carbon Inventory satellite mission to study the Earth on the night of August 1st. 3-4 from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center. The Long March 2F rocket could also launch an experimental reusable spaceplane from China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center later on Thursday, reports Everyday Astronaut. If these launches are confirmed, Space.com will release mission summaries.
Wow! That’s a lot of launches in just 24 hours, so buckle up, spacefans. Thursday will be long and busy.
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