Watch SpaceX launch NASA’s latest exoplanet-hunting satellite
SpaceX is set to launch a Falcon 9 rocket today during a 30-second window at 6:32pm EDT. On board is NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), designed to find exoplanets. SpaceX said this morning there’s an 80 percent chance of launching today. Following the launch, SpaceX will attempt to recover the Falcon 9 rocket and nose cone by landing the rocket on a drone ship and using parachutes to slow down fairings before they hit the Atlantic. SpaceX’s high-speed net boat Mr. Stevens is still in the Pacific.
The live stream is set to begin at 6:00pm EDT.
The satellite on board uses four cameras to hunt for exoplanets around stars. They measure tiny dips in a star’s brightness that could indicate a planetary body passing in front of the camera’s line of sight. This is called a transit. Mission officials have said that this satellite will likely find thousands of worlds during its two-year mission.
The Falcon 9 used in today’s mission has never been launched before, though, if it lands successfully, it reportedly will be used in a future mission. This rocket is also the final block 4 version before SpaceX starts using block 5 versions with upgraded engines and improvements to increase the reusability of the rocket.