NASA Exoplanet Satellite Arrives At Kennedy Space Center, Set For April Launch From Cape Canaveral

By  //  February 18, 2018

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liftoff scheduled for mid-April

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite is pictured inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida after arriving Feb. 12. (NASA Image)

BREVARD COUNTY • CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA (SpaceFlightNow.com) – NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite has arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for final testing, fueling and attachment to a Falcon 9 launcher for liftoff in mid-April, a delay of nearly one month to allow SpaceX additional time to prepare the rocket for the mission.

Once launched, TESS will scan the sky with four wide-field astronomical cameras, searching for periodic dips in the brightness of more than 200,000 of the nearest and brightest stars. The dimming is a tell-tale sign of a planet passing in front of the star.

The spacecraft arrived at the Florida launch base Monday after a truck shipment from its Orbital ATK factory in Dulles, Virginia. Engineers and technicians will prep TESS for launch inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy, the same clean room used by NASA’s Cassini, New Horizons, Mars rovers, OSIRIS-REx and numerous other missions before their launches.

TESS was scheduled to launch no earlier than March 20 from Cape Canaveral, but NASA announced Thursday a new target launch date of no earlier than April 16. That launch date is pending approval from the U.S. Air Force’s Eastern Range, which provides tracking, communications and safety support for all rocket missions from Cape Canaveral.

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