The European Space Agency (ESA) will be launching an Ariane 5 rocket tonight at 7:47 pm EDT from Kourou, French Guiana. NASA will be streaming the event live beginning at 7:15 pm EDT, and you can check it out right here!
The rocket will be transporting an Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-5) into orbit that contains goods for the crew aboard the International Space Station. The vessel will reach the ISS in about 14 days and will deliver about 6.6 tons of equipment, food, water, and a 4,000-year-old meteorite that will be sent back out into space to continue its cosmic journey.
The ATV is not only ferrying goods to the astronauts, but will also be performing two experiments. Laser InfraRed Imaging Sensors (LIRIS) will be demonstrated while docking. In the future, it is hoped LIRIS will make it easier to dock with uncooperative targets like space debris. The Break Up Camera will record the ATV in infrared as it breaks up in the atmosphere upon re-entry.
This spacecraft is the fifth and final ATV the ESA will launch. The ATV-5 has been nicknamed Georges Lemaître, in honor of the Belgian astronomer who was best known for proposing the Big Bang theory as the origin of the Universe. Others in the fleet have been named to honor Jules Verne, Johannes Kepler, Edoardo Amaldi, and Albert Einstein.
Watch the launch live here: