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Watch a Vega rocket launch a satellite to space at 9:52PM ET

Watch a Vega rocket launch a satellite to space at 9:52PM ET

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SpaceX's important launch lifts off this Sunday, but first the European Space Agency has a payload of its own to send into orbit. Tonight at 9:52PM ET the ESA will launch an environmental satellite into space aboard one of its Vega rockets. Coverage of the launch can be seen above and will begin at 9:30PM ET.

The satellite, called Sentinel 2A, is one of a pair of optical imaging satellites that will work in tandem. (The second one, Sentinel 2B, is scheduled to launch in 2016.) The satellites will circle the Earth on the same orbit, and will be spaced 180 degrees apart to maximize their coverage. The European Commission will use the satellites to gather information on agricultural and forestry practices, monitor plant growth, study pollution levels of lakes and coastal waters, and take images of floods, volcanic eruptions, and landslides.

The Sentinel satellites are part of a massive European program called Copernicus, which will use many more satellites to monitor and study the Earth in a variety of ways.