SpaceX launching NASA's exoplanet-hunting spacecraft at 3:51 pm PDT

TESS Mission - NASA Blogs

NASA's planet-hunting pioneer, the Kepler Space Telescope, has spent the past nine years focusing on considerably fainter, more distant stars and discovered almost three-quarters of the 3,700-plus exoplanets confirmed to date.

Scientists expect Tess to discover thousands of rocky and icy planets and gas giants, maybe even water worlds and places defying imagination - possibly even a twin Earth.

Meanwhile, the second stage will push TESS onward to orbit. In order to improve exoplanet detection capabilities, NASA, with backing from Google, awarded funding to a team from MIT to develop a new planet-hunting satellite.

LIVE: SpaceX launching NASA's planet hunting satellite from Cape Canaveral.

"With Kepler, we now know the planets exist, we have the size of the planets and in some cases, we have the masses", said Dr. Stephen Rinehart, a project scientist for the mission at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Senator wants review after '60 Minutes' report on Allegiant
The flight was only in the air for about 10 minutes before turning back to Vegas, which Church said brought on a panic attack. Hastert added that the airport has no problem with the airline's service to Santa Maria and is confident in its operation.

NASA's Tess spacecraft has embarked on a quest to find new worlds around nearby stars that could support life.

Kepler's trove of more than 2,300 confirmed planets outside our solar was impressive, but most were too distant and dim to be examined further. Delayed multiple times from March, the company's mission to launch the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (or TESS) for NASA is now ready. But those found by TESS should be close enough for mega telescopes in the future to detect any atmospheric signs of life.

SpaceX halted Monday's countdown to make extra rocket checks.

Musk wants to slow the upper stage down during reentry and target a landing aboard a "catcher ship" like the boat, known as Mr. Steven, that SpaceX is using to attempt fairing recoveries in the Pacific. The satellite was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

But the rocket marks the first under a special certification SpaceX has obtained to carry one of NASA's highest-priority science instruments. Continuing its efforts to cut the cost of space missions by recovering rockets, SpaceX will attempt to land the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a barge - named "Of Course I Still Love You" - in the Atlantic Ocean.

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