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Rocket carrying UArizona student-built CatSat to light up Arizona’s western sky?

Rocket carrying UArizona student-built CatSat to light up Arizona’s western sky?

Rocket carrying UArizona student-built CatSat to light up Arizona’s western sky?

PHOENIX (AZFamily) — We’ve seen plenty of Space X rockets soaring across our western skyline in the past few months, but Wednesday night, you could witness a launch carrying a bit of Arizona rocket ingenuity into orbit!

After a scrub for the last two nights, the launch of Firefly Aerospace’s “Noise of Summer” is set to blast off from Vandenburg Space Force Base at 9:04 pm

Based on calculations from the private aerospace company, optimal viewing in Arizona looking low on the western horizon will come two minutes after launch at 9:06 pm

That’s if the rocket launches as scheduled. The launch window is about 30 minutes long.

Here are the viewing possibilities and times for tonight's rocket launch.
Here are the viewing possibilities and times for tonight’s rocket launch.(Firefly Aerospace)

Riding atop the Alpha FLTA005 booster, the Firefly will launch eight shoe-box-sized CubeSats, selected through NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI).

According to the company, the CSLI provides universities and nonprofits across the country, along with small, private satellite developers, with low-cost access to conduct scientific research and technology demonstrations in space.

One of the tiny satellites has been dubbed “CatSat” designed and produced by students and professors from the University of Arizona.

At around 52 minutes after lift-off, the “CatSat” will be placed into orbit, and a one-of-a-kind balloon antenna will be inflated to test high-speed communications.

According to NASA, once inflated, the CubeSat is set to transmit high-definition Earth photos to ground stations at 50 megabits per second, more than five times faster than typical home internet speeds.

Officials say CatSat will orbit Earth every 95 minutes for about six months, gathering data about space weather.

"Firefly" launch timeline.
“Firefly” launch timeline.(Firefly Aerospace)
"CatSat" is set to test high speed communications using a unique, balloon antenna.
“CatSat” is set to test high speed communications using a unique, balloon antenna.(POT)
"CatSat" devs from University of Arizona.
“CatSat” developers from University of Arizona.(POT)

The Firefly rocket is much smaller than SpaceX’s Falcon 9 so it won’t be as spectacular in the night sky.

However, the company says it should still have the “jellyfish effect,” where the setting sun illuminates the rocket’s plume.

If you see tonight’s launch, share your photos with us and be sure to tag where you are across the state.

Looking at the forecast, we are not expecting any clouds on the western horizon, so viewing should be perfect at 9:06 pm!

You can also watch a live stream of the launch below. It will start T-30 minutes.

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