A highly advanced commercial communications satellite will lift off from Japan on Wednesday (Dec. 22) and you can watch the action live.
The huge Inmarsat-6 F1 satellite is scheduled to launch atop a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-2A rocket Wednesday from Tanegashima Space Center in Japan during a two-hour window that opens at 9:33 a.m. EST (1433 GMT; 11:33 p.m. local time at Tanegashima).
You can watch it live in the window below, courtesy of satellite operator Inmarsat, or directly via the London-based company.
The 12,060-pound (5,470 kilograms) Inmarsat-6 F1 is the first of two “I-6” spacecraft that Inmarsat plans to loft to geostationary orbit, about 22,240 miles (35,790 kilometers) above our planet.
The I-6 pair “are the largest and most sophisticated commercial communications satellites ever launched,” Inmarsat representatives wrote in a fact sheet. “Inmarsat’s first dual-payload satellites, the I-6s feature both L-band (ELERA) and Ka-band (Global Xpress) payloads.”
The I-6 satellites will be compatible with existing terminals for Inmarsat’s already-operational ELERA and Global Xpress networks, company representatives said.
The H-2A is Japan’s primary medium-lift launcher. The expendable rocket has sent many prominent payloads skyward over the years, including Japan’s Hayabusa2 asteroid sample-return mission (in 2014) and the United Arab Emirates’ Hope Mars orbiter (in 2020).
Wednesday’s planned launch had originally been targeted for Tuesday (Dec. 21), but concerns about possible bad weather caused a one-day delay.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.