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How to watch SpaceX launch Cygnus cargo ship to ISS for first time

SpaceX is about to launch Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo ship to the International Space Station (ISS) for the first time, and you can watch the event live online.

The 20th Commercial Resupply Services (NG-20) mission is set to get underway from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday, January 30. Scroll down for full details on how to watch.

The Cygnus will carry an array of science experiments, food, and other essential supplies for the crew aboard the ISS.

The spacecraft will stay docked at the station for about six months. Its engines could be fired up occasionally to nudge the ISS back to a recommended altitude should it drift out of position at any time. It’ll also steadily fill up with trash from the orbital facility before undocking and burning up during reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.

As the mission name suggests, this is the 20th time for a Cygnus vehicle to head to space, but it’s the first time hitching a ride on a SpaceX rocket. Up to now, the Cygnus has always flown on Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket, which uses Russian and Ukrainian parts. Not surprisingly, the supply chains have been disrupted by the ongoing conflict following Russia’s invasion of its neighbor, a situation that has led to the switch to SpaceX.

The last time a Cygnus flew to the ISS aboard an Antares rocket was in August last year.

This will be the 10th flight of SpaceX’s first-stage Falcon 9 booster, which previously launched Crew-5, GPS III Space Vehicle 06, Inmarsat I6-F2, CRS-28, Intelsat G-37, and four Starlink missions.

How to watch

SpaceX will use its Falcon 9 rocket to launch Northrop Grumman’s 20th Commercial Resupply Services mission (NG-20) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The company aims to launch the Cygnus spacecraft at 12:07 p.m. ET on Tuesday, January 30, with a backup launch opportunity available at 1:18 a.m. ET on Thursday, February 1.

A live webcast of the mission will begin around 15 minutes before liftoff. You can watch it on SpaceX’s website or on X, formerly Twitter.

NASA will live-stream the Cygnus spacecraft’s arrival at the ISS, with coverage beginning at 2:45 a.m. ET on Thursday, February 1.

What to expect

The live-stream coverage will include the Falcon 9 blasting off from the launchpad, with remote cameras tracking the rocket as it heads rapidly to orbit. Viewers will also be able to enjoy a rocket’s-eye view of the flight, which, after several minutes, will see the first stage of the rocket separating from the upper stage carrying the spacecraft. On Thursday, NASA will show the Cygnus on its approach to the ISS, a process that will culminate with the crucial docking procedure.

About eight minutes after launch, the first stage will then come in to land close to the launch site at Kennedy, paving the way for another flight using the same rocket part.

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Trevor Mogg
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