SpaceX Falcon 9 Ready To Launch NASA's TESS Satellite From Cape Canaveral

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SpaceX’s Valuation Takes Off Once Again

Companies SpaceX’s Valuation Takes Off Once Again

TESS is scheduled to launch on April 16, 2018.

An artist's illustration of NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) hunting for alien worlds.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which is leading the mission, said the stars will be monitored for "temporary drops in brightness caused by planetary transits".

The SpaceX rocket launch scheduled for Monday evening has been delayed.

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.

GNC stands for guidance, navigation and control. The technical glitch has delayed the launch of new NASA space telescope, created to detect worlds beyond our solar system, for at least 48 hours.

SpaceX, which was awarded "Category 2" certification for the "Full Thrust" Falcon 9 by NASA in January (PDF) despite a notable boom on the way to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2015, has to hit a 30-second launch window, which opens at 22:32 UTC tonight from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral.

What is the TESS expedition about?

NASA estimates that its exoplanet-seeking satellite will track down around 20,000 planets beyond our solar system, Phys.org reports.

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".

Roughly the size of a refrigerator with solar-panel wings and equipped with four special cameras, TESS will take about 60 days to reach a highly elliptical, first-of-a-kind orbit looping it between Earth and the moon every two and a half weeks.

NASA's Dr Martin Still also said in a blog: "We expect to find a whole range of planet sizes between planets the size of Mercury or even the moon, our moon, to planets the same size as Jupiter and everything in between".

Since stars that will be surveyed by TESS will be closer and brighter than those surveyed by Kepler, the planets should be easier to characterise.

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