Published On: Tue, Apr 17th, 2018

SpaceX launch cancelled: Why has TESS mission been delayed and when will it take place? | Science | News

A mission of NASA’s TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) was expected to blast off at 6.32pm EDT (11.32pm GMT) from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Monday, April 16.

But SpaceX tweeted earlier tonight that the launch would now be delayed until Wednesday, April 18.

TESS is a scientific exploration to find exoplanets – worlds which orbit other stars – amongst 200,000 stars.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which is leading the mission, said the stars will be monitored for “temporary drops in brightness caused by planetary transits”.

Why has TESS mission been delayed? When will it take place?

SpaceX tweeted earlier tonight that the launch has been delayed to a rocket issue and what SpaceX called “additional GNC analysis”.

It wrote: “Standing down today to conduct additional GNC analysis, and teams are now working towards a targeted launch of @NASA_TESS on Wednesday, April 18.”

GNC stands for guidance, navigation and control.

According to NASA, “the GN&C capability is a critical enabler of every launch vehicle and spacecraft system”.

Disappointed space watchers were assured by NASA that there are no major concerns with the launch overall.

In a statement tonight, NASA said: “The TESS spacecraft is in excellent health, and remains ready for launch.

“TESS will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.”

What is the TESS expedition about?

Scientists from NASA are trying to discover more about exoplanets outside our solar system to find out if any have life that is similar to ours.

The space agency said: “Our planet-hunting NASA TESS spacecraft will fly in a unique orbit that’ll allow it to study nearly the entire sky over two years.

“This special orbit is key in potentially finding thousands of new planets outside our solar system.”

NASA’s Dr Martin Still also said in a blog: “We expect to find a whole range of planet sizes between planets the size of Mercury or even the moon, our moon, to planets the same size as Jupiter and everything in between.

“The most interesting thing about these TESS discoveries is gonna be how close they are and the fact that their host stars are gonna be bright relative to those Kepler stars.”

The live launch on Wednesday will be available to watch on NASA’s website nasa.gov/live.

A live stream is expected to start around 15 minutes before lift-off.

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