New Yorkers and NASA fans looking for a bit of excitement during next Wednesday's spacecraft launch will be able to head into Times Square, where NASA's coverage of the launch will be broadcast over the twin screens beneath its famous New Year's Eve ball. Three crewmembers — including one NASA astronaut — are scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 11:14PM ET on November 6th. They'll be heading to the International Space Station, which will be holding nine people once they arrive — something it hasn't done since October 2009. Things will get much less crowded quickly, however, as three others are scheduled to return to Earth just four days later.
"The space station serves as a unique laboratory for researchers around the world, home to astronauts from multiple countries, and was built with international cooperation," William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations, says in a statement, "so it's fitting to show the launch of the next crew in the most cosmopolitan city in the United States." Coverage of the launch will begin at 10:15PM and run through 11:45PM with some coverage after the launch. It's not the first time NASA has taken over Times Square either: the Curiosity rover has twice now been featured in late night broadcasts there.