NASA and SpaceX delay the launch of planet-hunting satellite TESS. The new spacecraft will remain on the launch pad until Wednesday.
The satellite had been scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Monday evening. However, launch teams are standing down today to conduct additional Guidance Navigation and Control analysis, and teams are now working towards a targeted launch of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) on Wednesday, April 18, NASA reports.
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
NASA will launch the probe from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on top of a SpaceX Falcon 9. The probe will launch in a two-stage rocket. With nine Merlin engines powering the first stage and a single Merlin engine powering the second.
NASA also tweeted that the TESS spacecraft is in excellent health, and remains ready for launch.
Launch teams are standing down today to conduct additional Guidance Navigation and Control analysis. The @NASA_TESS spacecraft is in excellent health and remains ready for launch on the new targeted date of Wednesday, April 18. Updates: https://t.co/EtvbrndhXi https://t.co/SUA6gOflCN
— NASA (@NASA) April 16, 2018
TESS will hunt for exoplanets from a highly elliptical orbit that no other spacecraft has ever occupied. The new satellite will gradually expand its orbit until it flies close enough to the moon. Thus, receiving a gravitational assist.
“This slingshot will move it into a stable orbit that is tipped at about 40 degrees from the moon’s orbital plane,” the video’s narrator explains.
TESS will end up zipping around our planet once every 13.7 days.
Thumbnail image: NASA’ s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite sits atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (SpaceX via Associated Press)