SpaceX to Launch NASA’s Exoplanet-Hunting Spacecraft


After the launching of TESS Exoplanet Hunter, which was scheduled for April 16 launch, was delayed by a rocket issue, SpaceX is all set to launch the spacecraft from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The event can be watched live on homepage.

The launch of the Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite – or TESS – was delayed for up to 48 hours after the spacecraft’s rocket, SpaceX Falcon 9, faced an issue. The TESS is designed to hunt alien planets that are circling the stars that are much closer to the Sun.

The new mission, as cited by the members of the TESS team, will help in discovering thousands of new worlds over the course of its two-year mission. TESS will follow the lead of Kepler space telescope of NASA which has until now discovered more than 2,600 alien worlds until now.

The Falcon 9 rocket will have a launching window of about 30 seconds after which its first stage will be to attempt landing on the rocket’s space ship. Once it reaches the space, the spacecraft will manoeuvre around the Earth in an oblong orbit and will circle around twice after each orbit the moon after which it will search for stars that have planets passing in front of them.

This will help the spacecraft to identify any exoplanets that are very close to Earth and can be investigated further in the future by huge telescopes such as the James Webb telescope that is part of an ambitious space journey.

The spacecraft will search for the new planets by circling around in space and looking for bright stars and monitoring their light. Any dimming and small dips in their brightness could mean that a planet might be moving in front of the stars. The spacecraft will sweep the skies as it keeps orbiting around the Earth for two years. One orbit will take around 14 days for the washing-machine sized spacecraft to circle the Earth.

Taking on the baton from NASA’s Kepler, TESS will take over the next step of finding those planets that are relatively closer to Earth.