SpaceX Rocket Launching NASA's TESS Exoplanet Hunter Today: Watch Live | 4/16/2018 | Google+
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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA's next exoplanet-hunting mission is scheduled to launch today (April 16) atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, and you can watch the action live.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station here today at 6:32 p.m. EDT (2232 GMT). Watch the launch live at, courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 6 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT). The weather looks good for the launch, with an 80-percent chance of clear skies at launch time, according to the Air Force's 45th Weather Squadron watching over the mission.

Liftoff - SpaceX - Stage - Falcon - Ship

Shortly after liftoff, SpaceX will attempt to land the first stage of the two-stage Falcon 9 on a robotic ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. To date, the company has pulled off such first-stage touchdowns 23 times during Falcon 9 launches, with about half of the boosters coming down on "drone ships" and the other half returning to terra firma. [NASA's TESS Exoplanet-Hunting Mission in Pictures]

SpaceX has re-flown 11 of these landed boosters. But the Falcon 9 lifting off today is brand-new, Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX vice president of build and flight reliability, said during a pre-launch briefing yesterday (April 15).

Artist - Illustration - NASA - Transiting - Exoplanet

An artist's illustration of NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) hunting for alien worlds. TESS is scheduled to launch on April 16, 2018.

SpaceX also aims to recover the payload fairing, the nose cone that will protect TESS during liftoff — but not using the net-equipped boat named...
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