HAWTHORNE (CNS) - Hawthorne-based aerospace company SpaceX successfully launched a cosmos-exploring satellite into orbit from Cape Canaveral, beginning a NASA mission to hunt for potential planets outside our solar system.
The launch of NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket had been planned for Monday but was postponed to Wednesday for technical reasons. But the launch went off without a hitch at 3:51 p.m. California time. It was the eighth launch of the year for SpaceX, which most recently launched a resupply mission to the International Space Station on April 2.
Continuing its efforts to cut the cost of space missions by recovering rockets, SpaceX also successfully landed the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket that carried the satellite into orbit on a barge -- named ``Of Course I Still Love You'' -- in the Atlantic Ocean.
The TESS mission, led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, is designed to find potential planets orbiting stars outside our solar system. It will attempt to identify such planets by spotting dips in the brightness of stars, a sign that a planet is passing in front of it.