An artist's illustration of NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) hunting for alien worlds. But the Falcon 9 lifting off today is brand-new, Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX vice president of build and flight reliability, said during a pre-launch briefing yesterday (April 15).
Shortly before NASA's social media announcement, the SpaceX launch team tweeted that they were standing down and that the TESS launch had been put off until tomorrow.
The two-year, $337 million TESS mission is created to build on the work of its predecessor, the Kepler space telescope, which has discovered the bulk of some 3,700 exoplanets documented during the past 20 years and is running out of fuel.
GNC stands for guidance, navigation and control.
NASA representatives wrote on Twitter that the TESS spacecraft, operated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is "in excellent health" and awaits patiently for the rescheduled launch time.
The much-anticipated launch of NASA's newest exoplanet hunter has been rescheduled, the US space agency announced in a brief news release.
SpaceX halted the countdown a little more than two hours before its Falcon 9 rocket had been scheduled to carry NASA's Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, into orbit from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
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What is the TESS expedition about?
The space agency said: "Our planet-hunting NASA TESS spacecraft will fly in a unique orbit that'll allow it to study almost the entire sky over two years".
NASA estimates that its exoplanet-seeking satellite will track down around 20,000 planets beyond our solar system, Phys.org reports.
"Tess will find small planets, rocky planets that might have atmospheres and features that may be conducive to life", Buzasi said.
"This special orbit is key in potentially finding thousands of new planets outside our solar system".
"The most interesting thing about these TESS discoveries is gonna be how close they are and the fact that their host stars are gonna be bright relative to those Kepler stars".