Elon Musk’s SpaceX Rocket Carrying Astronauts Will Be Visible Across UK Tonight
If tonight you find yourself once again sat on your sofa, bored and watching reruns of shows you’ve already watched a million times over, I have just the thing for you.
Well, Elon Musk does, because the billionaire’s aerospace company SpaceX has teamed up with NASA to launch a rocket carrying two astronauts into space tonight – and we’ll all be getting front row seats.
The Falcon 9 rocket will be taking off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida just after 4.30pm (9.33 BST), after which it will journey to the International Space Station.
If everything goes to plan and unfavourable weather conditions don’t prevent the rocket from launching, we could see the rocket flying over the UK 15 minutes later, which will be between 9:45pm and 9:50pm.
British astronaut Tim Peake told BBC Radio 4 Today that the rocket will be visible if those in the UK look south-west. ‘If you’ve got clear skies, go outside at 9:50pm and you’ll actually see it fly over,’ he explained.
If you look to the south-west… In fact, if you go out at 9:30pm you’ll see the International Space Station fly over and then about 15 minutes later SpaceX will be catching it up.
The Demo-2 mission will see experienced NASA astronauts Robert Behnken, 48, and Douglas Hurley, 53, flying into space – making the Falcon 9 the first manned space flight to leave US soil in nine years.
It will also be SpaceX’s first-ever human flight, something made even more momentous as the rocket will be the first private space flight to head to the International Space Station.
The launch will be streamed live through NASA’s TV channel, and, if successful, will pave the way for future commercial partnerships and a new age of space travel.
According to MeteorWatch, the spacecraft will pass over the UK from a westerly direction and will head east, where it may be visible in the southern part of the sky as it flies past for around three to four minutes.
So what exactly do we need to be looking out for? Well, as the spacecraft passes over, we can expect to see ‘just the one or a collection of objects’ that look like ‘bright stars moving across the sky’.
According to weather forecasts, there will be clear skies this evening, meaning the sky will be fairly light and the craft should be bright enough to catch a glimpse of it.
Basically, you’ve got no excuse not to witness this historic event (unless you’re quizzing, in which case I’ll let you off).
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CreditsBBC Radio 4 Today/Twitter and 1 other
BBC Radio 4 Today/Twitter