STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS & USED WITH PERMISSION
Artist’s concept of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. Credit: NASA
SpaceX readied a Falcon 9 rocket for takeoff Monday to launch a planet-hunting satellite for NASA that will monitor the light from countless stars to find potentially habitable planets worthy of follow-up studies by more powerful ground- and space-based observatories.
The Falcon 9, carrying the $337 million Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, was scheduled for launch from pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 6:32 p.m. EDT (GMT-4) Monday, the opening of a short 30-second window. Forecasters predicted an 80 percent chance of favorable weather.
The launching will mark SpaceX’s eighth so far this year and the 53rd of a Falcon 9 overall. The company hopes to recover the rocket’s first stage with a landing on an off-shore droneship, the “Of Course I Still Love You.” If successful, the California rocket-builder’s record will stand at 24 booster landings, 12 on land and 12 on the deck of a ship.
The rocket’s second stage engine was expected to fire twice before releasing TESS into an elliptical orbit 49 minutes after launch. If all goes well, the spacecraft will ...