Last Minute Falcon 9 Glitch Delays SpaceX Launch Of NASA's Planet-Hunting Satellite TESS

| April 17 , 2018 , 13:08 IST

Barely 2 hours before the launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket on Monday carrying NASA's new space telescope designed to detect worlds beyond our solar system, the planned launch had to be delayed for at least 48 hours due to a technical glitch.

According to SpaceX, the launch was delayed due to unspecified problems in the rocket's guidance control system and the Falcon 9 rocket along with the NASA telescope is now set for a launch on Wednesday.

NASA's space telescope Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) which is expected to expand astronomers knowledge of 'exoplanets' or planets beyond our solar system, will be launched into orbit from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket.

The $337 million (roughly Rs. 2,200 crores) 2-year TESS mission is designed to build on the work of the Kepler space telescope which discovered the bulk of the documented 3,700 exoplanets in the past 20 years.

Similar to the Kepler, TESS will be using a method of detection known as transit photometry, which looks for periodic, repetitive dips in the visible light from stars which may be caused by planets passing, or transiting, in front of them.

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The TESS mission is expected to pinpoint thousands more previously unknown worlds, out of which hundred may be Earth-sized or no larger than twice the size of Earth as such planets would be most likely to feature rocky surfaces or oceans, making them more hospitable to life forms.

The satellite is about the size of a refrigerator and comes with solar-panel wings and four special cameras. TESS is expected to reach a highly elliptical, first-of-a-kind orbit between Earth and the Moon in around 60 days.

A total of 2 lakh stars have been pre-selected as being relatively nearby, for TESS to scan with some stars being only dozens of light years away from Earth.

A private sector space transportation firm founded and run by Tesla's Elon Musk,  SpaceX has conducted launches for NASA in the past as well.