NASA is going on a hunt for exoplanets with the help of SpaceX today. Once again, Elon Musk’s company will launch a rocket from Florida for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
UPDATE: The launch is postponed due to a rocket issue. The liftoff is rescheduled for April 18.
Standing down today to conduct additional GNC analysis, and teams are now working towards a targeted launch of @NASA_TESS on Wednesday, April 18.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 16, 2018
While Boeing wants to go to Mars to retrieve Elon Musk’s Tesla, NASA is launching an exoplanet-hunting satellite atop of a SpaceX rocket this afternoon. The mission is scheduled to start at precisely 6:32 PM EDT as SpaceX has a 30-second window to lift off the ground its Falcon 9.
All eyes will be on Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida as this mission is pretty exciting. We learn from NASA that the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite called TESS “is poised to provide tantalizing new clues in the search for planets outside our solar system that could harbor life.”
TESS will watch for signs of planets passing in front of the stars they orbit using four sensitive cameras. “When a planet crosses in front of its star, that’s called a transit – and it results in a short-lived flicker in the starlight seen by an observer,” NASA explained.
The spacecraft is set to scan large areas of the sky searching for terrestrial planets outside of our solar system. These planets will then be studied with the help of ground-based telescopes.
So far the weather looks good for the launch – SpaceX took earlier to Twitter to notify that there is an 80% chance of launching today. If everything goes according to plan, the space company will land its rocket on one of its drone ships stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
As for the payload fairing, SpaceX will attempt to recover the nose cone using parachutes. Vice President Hans Koenigsmann said that the fairing halves should be retrieved by boat once they land in the Atlantic. SpaceX already failed twice to recover payload fairings but really hopes to catch this one for reuse, as it is how the company intends to cut launch prices. Musk once mentioned that fairings can cost up to $6 million: now you understand why they are trying so hard to find a way to get them back.
The TESS Mission live will start at 6 PM EDT, don’t miss it!