NASA and SpaceX Prepare to Launch Planet-hunting Spacecraft

The payload fairing for NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is being moved to the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Inside the facility, TESS will be encapsulated in the payload fairing.
The payload fairing for NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is being moved to the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Inside the facility, TESS will be encapsulated in the payload fairing. Photo credit: NASA

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, is making strides toward its upcoming liftoff. The planet-hunting spacecraft is slated to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40 on Monday, April 16, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.  Inside Kennedy Space Center’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility, the TESS spacecraft was sealed within the Falcon 9 payload fairing in preparation for its move to the launch pad.

The satellite is the next step in NASA’s search for planets outside our solar system, known as exoplanets.

TESS is a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission led and operated by MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Dr. George Ricker of MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research serves as principal investigator for the mission. Additional partners include Orbital ATK, NASA’s Ames Research Center, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Space Telescope Science Institute. More than a dozen universities, research institutes and observatories worldwide are participants in the mission. NASA’s Launch Services Program is responsible for launch management.