This afternoon, the United Launch Alliance is set to launch its final rocket of 2016 — an Atlas V tasked with sending a communications satellite into orbit. If successful, it will wrap up 12 launches for ULA this year, and 115 for the company since it was formed nearly a decade ago.
The satellite going up today is called EchoStar 19, which will be used by HughesNet to beam high-speed internet to homes and businesses in North America. To do this, the probe will sit in a super high orbit above Earth called geosynchronous orbit — a path 22,000 miles up. From this orbit, satellites match the Earth’s rotation, so they appear to stay in the same location in the sky at all times.
The Atlas V launching EchoStar 19 today will have three additional boosters strapped on to its base, providing the extra thrust needed to get the satellite to its destination. Its takeoff is scheduled for 1:27PM ET, and weather looks mostly good so far. There’s a 70 percent chance that conditions will be favorable for a launch. To watch the launch, check back here at 1:07PM ET, when ULA’s coverage of the mission begins.