The launch of NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which was previously scheduled to take place on Monday, April 16, has been postponed.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket was scheduled to carry the Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, into orbit from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. However, the launch was called off some three hours before lift-off due to a technical glitch in the Falcon 9 rocket.
SpaceX announced through a tweet that they are currently undergoing additional guidance, navigation, and control analysis of the rocket before launching it in space. The teams are now working towards a targeted TESS launch of Wednesday, April 18, at 18:51 EDT.
The U.S. space agency has also stated in its official blog post that the TESS spacecraft is in excellent health, and remains ready for launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Notably, TESS is being touted as the replacement for the Kepler space telescope which has already detected around 4000 exoplanets during the past 20 years and is currently running out of fuel. It is expected that the Kepler telescope will soon become obsolete as it will run out of fuel in a couple of months. NASA scientists are not able to predict Kepler’s exact fuel levels in absence of a fuel gauge.
TESS will focus on stars that are 30 to 100 times brighter than stars observed by the Kepler space telescope. They are hoping that the soon-to-be-launched planet hunter will help find some 20,000 exoplanets and as many as 500 roughly the size of Earth during its two years in the orbit. TESS will take around sixty days to establish itself in a never-before-used elliptical orbit, called P/2, high above Earth.
NASA will offer live stream coverage of the launch on its official website.