Look up — but make sure you do it quickly. The world's fastest rocket, United Launch Alliance's Atlas V, is launching into space this morning, and you can watch it happen at 4:30AM AEST. Another Atlas V, carrying something secret for the military, blasts off in July (Image: ULA)
Update 4:10AM AEST: Today's launch has been cancelled due to a "minor ground leak during propellant tanking". It has been rescheduled for tomorrow at 4:30AM AEST, with the broadcast starting at 4:05AM.
The last time we watched an Atlas V launch a satellite, it was delivering a secret payload for the US National Reconnaissance Office. This time, though, we know exactly what is going up from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base this morning. It's a new high-resolution imaging satellite, the WorldView-4, which will return pictures of our own planet back to us.
Ten years ago, an Atlas V broke the speed record for fastest rocket launch when the rocket carrying NASA's New Horizons spacecraft hit 75,639km per hour. Today's rocket launch won't quite reach that speed, but it should give us a pretty spectacular look at one of the world's fastest and most powerful rockets as it sends a new satellite up into space.
The broadcast will start just after 4:00AM, but the launch window doesn't open up until 4:30AM. Then, the rocket has 14 minutes to make it up into space before the window closes. You can watch it happen right here: