The weather looks good for Sunday’s SpaceX launch. The company’s Falcon 9 rocket will will carry an ocean-monitoring satellite into orbit, then attempt to land on a drone ship in the Pacific ocean.
Earlier this week, the company successfully test-fired the Falcon 9, so it looks like it’s all systems go for the January 17 launch—so far at least.
The launch is scheduled for Sunday at 1:42pm Eastern, but coverage will begin at 12:45. You can watch it here via a NASA livestream:
About three minutes after liftoff, the main stage rocket booster will separate from the spacecraft and return to Earth, hopefully landing safely on SpaceX’s autonomous barge. Meanwhile, second stage boosters will continue to carry the Jason-3 satellite up to an orbit 840 miles above the Earth.
About 56 minutes after launch, Jason-3 will deploy its solar panels to prepare for operations. The satellite will help the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration track sea level heights, which could improve forecasting for El Nino weather patterns and predict hurricane intensity.
SpaceX’s plan to land the rocket’s first stage on a drone ship, if successful, will be historic. The company recently managed to land their rocket on solid ground—a feat that could usher in an era of reusable rockets and cheaper spaceflight. But landing on a moving vessel adds an extra challenge.