SpaceX has hopes to be ready on Wednesday evening to launch a planet-hunting NASA science mission from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
An initial attempt to launch a Falcon 9 rocket and the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) of NASA was scrubbed several hours before the planned 6:32 p.m. liftoff on Monday. The SpaceX said that it stood down to perform more analysis of the navigation, guidance, and control system of the rocket. It became apparent on Monday that something was amiss when the countdown clock stopped abruptly with just over three hours remaining. As the launch is said to be targeting a specific moment within a 30-second window, there was no margin for any error if at all a weather or technical issue cropped up.
A liftoff on Wednesday from the Launch Complex 40 would take place at 6:51 p.m. The weather forecast is said to be excellent, with less than even a 10 percent chance of violating launch rules. NASA’s two-year, 337 million dollars TESS mission reportedly expects to find as many as thousands of planets orbiting nearby, bright stars. The cameras would detect tiny dips in the light as the planets cross their host stars. The follow-up observations would determine if any of the planets are like Earth and potentially could support life.
The TESS mission has opportunities to launch through 26th April 26 (except 22nd April) before NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the Kennedy Space Center, would shift its focus to a planned 5th May launch of the InSight Mars lander from California on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
The countdown of Monday was the second in the three days at the Cape, following ULA’s Atlas V launch on Saturday evening of a national security mission for the Air Force Space Command.