InSight Live Launch Coverage on NASA TV, May 5, 6:30 a.m. EDT (3:30 a.m. PDT) Watch the InSight live launch coverage on NASA TV at: www.nasa.gov/nasalive.
NASA’s next mission to Mars – the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport spacecraft (InSight) – is scheduled to launch as early as Saturday, May 5, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. InSight’s liftoff aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-3 is targeted for 7:05 a.m. EDT (4:05 a.m. PDT) at the opening of a two-hour launch window, making it also the first interplanetary mission to take off from the West Coast.
This is the third mission in the robust schedule for NASA’s Launch Services Program this year, launching six missions in just six months, with six different rocket configurations, from six launch sites.
NASA’s next Mars lander is one significant step closer to beginning its journey. Secured inside its payload fairing, the agency’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) spacecraft was transported from the Astrotech facility to Space Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The payload fairing was hoisted up inside the Vertical Integration Facility and attached to the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Liftoff is scheduled for May 5, 2018.
InSight will be the first mission to look deep beneath the Martian surface. It will study the planet’s interior by measuring its heat output and listening for marsquakes. InSight will use the seismic waves generated by marsquakes to develop a map of the Red Planet’s deep interior. The resulting insight into Mars’ formation will provide a better understanding of how other rocky planets, including Earth, were created.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the InSight mission for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by its Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The spacecraft, including cruise stage and lander, was built and tested by Lockheed Martin Space in Denver. Several European partners, including France’s space agency, the Centre National d’Étude Spatiales, and the German Aerospace Center, are supporting the mission. United Launch Alliance of Centennial, Colorado, is providing the Atlas V launch service. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at its Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch management.
NASA will have a new tool in the search for habitable planets.
The agency’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite was delivered to space this evening aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Launch occurred right on time at 6:51 p.m. EDT following an uneventful countdown highlighted by excellent weather and healthy hardware.
“Liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying TESS, a planet-hunting spacecraft that will search for new worlds beyond our solar system,” NASA Launch Commentator Josh Finch said as the rocket thundered away from the launch complex.
TESS will be the first space-based, all-sky surveyor to search for exoplanets – planets outside of our own solar system. However, the spacecraft isn’t looking for just any planets. It’s specifically searching for those that are Earth-like, and close enough to our own celestial neighborhood that scientists can study them further.
“We are thrilled TESS is on its way to help us discover worlds we have yet to imagine, worlds that could possibly be habitable, or harbor life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
How will it find these planets? Like the Kepler mission before it, TESS will use the transit method – that is, it will stare intently at the stars in a given section of the sky, watching for the telltale flicker of a passing (transiting) planet. (Learn more about TESS and the transit method on the TESS Overview.) Kepler, which launched in 2009, focused on one portion of the sky and sought to find Earth-like planets. TESS, on the other hand, will look for stars 30 to 100 times brighter than those observed by Kepler. It also will scan a far larger area.
But first, TESS had to get off the ground. After liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket performed well, sending the spacecraft on its way to orbit. At 7:53 p.m., the twin solar arrays that will power the spacecraft successfully deployed.
“Wow, are we excited. We just had a perfect countdown and perfect launch of the TESS mission,” said Tim Dunn of NASA’s Launch Services Program. “The Falcon 9 continues to demonstrate what a reliable vehicle it has become,” Dunn said.
Over the course of several weeks, TESS will use six thruster burns to travel in a series of progressively elongated orbits to reach the Moon, which will provide a gravitational assist so that TESS can transfer into its 13.7-day final science orbit around Earth. After approximately 60 days of check-out and instrument testing, the spacecraft will begin its work.
TESS is the next step in the search for planets outside of our solar system. The mission will find exoplanets that periodically block part of the light from their host stars, events called transits. TESS will survey the nearest and brightest stars for two years to search for transiting exoplanets.
Launch teams are standing down today to conduct additional Guidance Navigation and Control analysis, and teams are now working towards a targeted launch of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) on Wednesday, April 18. 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.
In just a few hours, a NASA spacecraft is expected to launch on a mission to search the skies for the nearest terrestrial planets outside our solar system. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, is scheduled to lift off aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 6:32 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Follow NASA’s TESS Blog beginning at 6 p.m. for frequent updates from the countdown.
The planned liftoff of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, remains scheduled for 6:32 p.m. EDT Monday from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing continue to predict an 80 percent chance of favorable weather for liftoff.
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.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying the NOAA Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, or GOES-S. Liftoff was at 5:02 p.m. EST. GOES-S is the second satellite in a series of next-generation weather satellites. It will launch to a geostationary position over the U.S. to provide images of storms and help predict weather forecasts, severe weather outlooks, watches, warnings, lightning conditions and longer-term forecasting. For more information as the mission continues, go to: www.nasa.gov/goes
Photo credit: NASA/Bill White