Rocket Lab, ULA, Blue Origin and SpaceX all aim to launch missions on Aug. 4.

you can watch 4 different rocket launches in free webcasts thursday
A Rocket Lab Electron rocket carrying the NROL-199 spy satellite for the U.S. Reconnaissance Office stands atop its Launch Complex 1 pad on the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand ahead of an August 2022 launch. (Image credit: Rocket Lab)

Rocket fans, rejoice! If you’re a fan of spaceflight, then Thursday (Aug. 4) will be a banner day with no less than four different rockets launching missions off planet Earth. 

Rockets built by Rocket Lab, the United Launch Alliance, Blue Origin and SpaceX will launch into space today (if all goes well). The China National Space Administration may also launch two rockets of its own on Thursday, according to some media reports. 

Rocket Lab’s Antipodean Adventure

The space action begins in the wee hours of Thursday morning (Aug. 4), when Rocket Lab will launch a small (and classified) spy satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). An Electron rocket will launch the mission, called NROL-199, from Rocket Lab’s launch site on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. 

Liftoff is scheduled for 1 a.m. EDT (0500 GMT), and you can watch it on Space.com  and via Rocket Lab’s own website (opens in new tab). The livestream will appear on this page at launch time, with Rocket Lab expected to begin the webcast 15 minutes before liftoff.

The NROL-199 mission, which Rocket Lab calls “Antipodean Adventure,” is the second of two back-to-back reconnaissance missions the company is flying for the NRO. Rocket Lab launched the NROL-162 mission on July 13. 

United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch of SBIRS GEO 6

Next up on Thursday’s launch docket is a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket mission. That flight, which is scheduled to launch at 6:29 a.m. EDT (1029 GMT), will launch the sixth and last Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit satellite for the U.S. Space Force. 

Called the SBIRS GEO 6 for short, the satellite is designed to serve as a missile detection early warning system for the Space Force’s Space Systems Command. It will launch from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. ULA will webcast the launch live on YouTube and its website, beginning about 20 minutes before liftoff. You can get launch updates beginning at 11 p.m. EDT (0300 GMT) tonight at the ULA mission page (opens in new tab).

“Equipped with powerful scanning and staring infrared surveillance sensors to protect our nation 24/7, the SBIRS spacecraft continue to serve as the tip of the spear for global missile warning as ballistic missile threats proliferate around the world,” ULA wrote in a mission overview (opens in new tab). “These infrared sensors, and others in a constellation of persistent overhead satellites, collect data that allow the U.S. military to detect missile launches, support ballistic missile defense, expand technical intelligence gathering and bolster situational awareness on the battlefield.”

Blue Origin’s NS-22 space tourist flight

Space tourists will launch 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 space tourist flight from the company’s Launch Site One near Van Horn, Texas. The mission will carry six passengers on a trip to suborbital space, offering them sweeping views of Earth below and a few minutes of weightlessness before returning home. 

Blue Origin space tourist launches: Live NS-22 mission updates

Liftoff of Blue Origin’s NS-22 mission is set for 9:30 a.m. EDT (1330 GMT), with a live webcast expected to begin an hour earlier at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT). You can watch that live on this page, as well as on YouTube (opens in new tab) or directly from Blue Origin’s website. (opens in new tab)

NS-22 will mark Blue Origin’s sixth space tourist flight since the company began crewed launches. Riding on this mission will be: 

Coby Cotton, co-founder of the YouTube channel Dude Perfect;Sara Sabry, founder of the Deep Space Initiative and the 1st Egyptian to fly in space; Mário Ferreira, an entrepreneur who will be the first Portuguese person in space;Vanessa O’Brien, a British-American explorer who has climbed Mt. Everest and dived to Challenger Deep in the ocean;Clint Kelly III, founder of DARPA’s Autonomous Land Vehicle project to research autonomous driving technology;Steve Young, a businessperson and restauranteur who serves with the Space Coast Conservation Association.

SpaceX’s Danuri moon probe launch for South Korea

SpaceX will close Thursday’s rocket launch quartet by lofting the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter mission for South Korea on a Falcon 9 rocket. Liftoff is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. EDT (2308 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. SpaceX’s launch webcast will begin about 15 minutes before liftoff on the company’s webpage (opens in new tab). You’ll also be able to follow it live on the KARI YouTube page (opens in new tab).

Also known as Danuri, the South Korean moon mission is the country’s first ever 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. 

The spacecraft carries six different instruments to study the moon and is expected to spend a year in lunar orbit studying the moon’s magnetic signature, search for water ice on the surface and test Earth-to-moon communications technologies. The mission is overseen by scientists with the Korea Aerospace Research Institute.

Danuri will mark SpaceX’s second launch to the moon, after the company’s 2019 launch of the Israeli Beresheet moon lander. While SpaceX successfully delivered Beresheet to the moon, the Israeli-built lander ultimately crashed into the lunar surface. Israel’s 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 destined for an orbit about 60 miles (100 kilometers) above the lunar surface. 

China’s two rocket launches

As if those four missions weren’t enough, China may launch a new Earth-observation satellite and an experimental space plane on two different rockets on Thursday. 

According to the site Everyday Astronaut (opens in new tab), a Chinese Long March 4B rocket could launch the country’s Terrestrial Ecosystem Carbon Inventory Satellite mission to study Earth overnight on Aug. 3-4 from the Taiyuan Satellite Launching Center.  A Long March 2F rocket may also launch an experimental reusable space plane from China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center later on Thursday, Everyday Astronaut reported. If those launches are confirmed, Space.com will have recaps of the missions. 

Whew! That’s a lot of launches in one 24-hour period, so buckle up, space fans. It’s going to be a long, and launch-filled, Thursday. 

Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com (opens in new tab) or follow him @tariqjmalik (opens in new tab). Follow us @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab), Facebook (opens in new tab) and Instagram (opens in new tab).

TECH NEWS RELATED

What's in Biden's big climate and health plan?

Hundreds of billions of dollars for clean energy projects, cheaper prescription drugs and new corporate taxes are a few of the key items in US President Joe Biden’s massive investment plan, which Congress has now passed. Here’s a closer look at the signature elements of the package, which represents ...

View more: What's in Biden's big climate and health plan?

Ukraine nuclear plant standoff stirs Chernobyl memories

Anastasiya Rudenko clutches the gleaming gold medal her late husband Viktor was awarded for working in the Chernobyl nuclear disaster zone. He died in 2014 from bladder cancer — perhaps a result of radiation, she thinks. Now she mourns his loss in the Ukrainian village of Vyschetarasivka, across the ...

View more: Ukraine nuclear plant standoff stirs Chernobyl memories

Four dead in China flash flood; 11 died in Gambia's worst floods in decades

Four people were killed and nine others injured in a flash flood in southwest China on Saturday, local authorities said. Footage published by Chinese media showed water rising rapidly in a river on the outskirts of Sichuan province’s Pengzhou city. Tourists who had been playing in the initially shallow ...

View more: Four dead in China flash flood; 11 died in Gambia's worst floods in decades

Pope urges help for drought-hit Somalia

Pope Francis on Sunday called for international help for Somalia to fight a “deadly” drought that the UN says has displaced one million people. The 85-year-old pontiff drew attention to what he called the “serious humanitarian crisis” in Somalia and parts of surrounding countries after his weekly Angelus prayer ...

View more: Pope urges help for drought-hit Somalia

China and Thailand kick off joint air force drills

Thailand and China kicked off a joint air force exercise on Sunday, the kingdom’s military said, the first such drills in years following a pause forced by Covid-19. The “Falcon Strike” exercise comes after China’s biggest-ever military drills around Taiwan, which were conducted in retaliation to a visit there ...

View more: China and Thailand kick off joint air force drills

US to boost Taiwan trade, conduct air, sea transits

The United States will boost trade with Taiwan in response to China’s “provocative” behaviour, the White House said Friday, as it insisted on the right of air and sea passage through the tense strait. A new trade plan will be unveiled within days, while US forces will transit the ...

View more: US to boost Taiwan trade, conduct air, sea transits

Taiwan's frontline islanders unfazed by beat of China war drum

Not far from the rusted-out tanks and anti-landing spikes that litter the beaches of the Taiwanese island where he lives, 92-year-old veteran Yang Yin-shih reads his newspaper in the shadow of the enemy that regularly adorns its pages. Several miles from Yang’s home on the tiny Kinmen Islands is ...

View more: Taiwan's frontline islanders unfazed by beat of China war drum

NASA explains strange stringy object photographed by Perseverance rover

One photo taken recently by NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars showed an unusual noodle-like object lying on the surface of the Red Planet, but scientists have an explanation. The photo was taken on July 12 and depicted what looked like a tangled web of string in the lower right ...

View more: NASA explains strange stringy object photographed by Perseverance rover

ESO's Very Large Telescope Catches A Starburst Galaxy Brimming In A 'Whirlpool of Gold'

Chinese commercial carrier rocket Smart Dragon-3 completes ground tests

Hubble sees red supergiant star Betelgeuse slowly recovering after blowing its top

Shenzhou XIV astronauts to conduct their first spacewalk in coming days

AFRL Inspire event with Tedx-style talks to be livestreamed

Pentagon says US weapons not used to attack Crimea airbase

North Korea criticises UN chief over denuclearisation call

Indonesia, US troops hold live-fire drill as China tensions mount

Dark thoughts haunt Ukrainians in shadow of nuclear crisis

Iran hints it may accept compromise on nuclear deal

Iran seeks 3 more Khayyam satellites

Colombia to restart peace talks with ELN rebels

OTHER TECH NEWS

Top Car News Car News