NASA will launch its new Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) today (April 18) at 6:51 p.m. EDT (2251 GMT). Watch live coverage of the launch here starting at 6:30 p.m. EDT (2230 GMT), courtesy of NASA TV. Read our preview: SpaceX to Launch NASA's Exoplanet-Hunting Spacecraft Today
TESS will lift off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It will spend the next two years searching for alien worlds orbiting the brightest stars in our cosmic neighborhood. [NASA's TESS Exoplanet-Hunting Mission in Pictures]
"TESS is NASA's next step in the search for planets outside of our solar system, known as exoplanets, including those that could support life. The mission is expected to catalog thousands of planet candidates and vastly increase the current number of known exoplanets. TESS will find the most promising exoplanets orbiting relatively nearby stars, giving future researchers a rich set of new targets for more comprehensive follow-up studies, including the potential to assess their capacity to harbor life."
Webcast replay: Atlas V rocket launches US military satellites
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launched two satellites for the U.S. Air Force from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Liftoff is scheduled for 7:13 p.m. EDT (2313 GMT), and you can watch it again here.You can watch it directly from ULA here.
Read our full launch wrap story: Atlas V Rocket Launches US Military Satellite and Experimental Spacecraft Into Orbit
The goal of AFSPC-11 launched the Continuous Broadcast Augmenting SATCOM (CBAS), a military communications satellite, and the ESPA Augmented GEO Laboratory Experiment (EAGLE), an experimental platform for hosting up to 6 payloads on a single spacecraft. One of EAGLE's payloads is Mycroft, a small microsatellite designed to test spacecraft self-inspection techniques.
You can watch the full ULA video below:
"The mission of CBAS is to augment existing military satellite communications capabilities and broadcast military data continuously through space-based, satellite communications relay links. "
"Primary mission objective for the EAGLE platform is to demonstrate a maneuverable ESPA based space vehicle design which can accommodate up to six hosted or deployable payloads in GEO, and can be cost effectively replicated for multiple payload missions to either a GEO, LEO or GTO orbit. EAGLE experiments will demonstrate enhanced capabilities in space system anomaly resolution and the capability to supplement ground based space situational awareness assets from a geosynchronous platform. EAGLE experiments will also provide new technologies to detect and identify system anomalies such as space weather events and characterize collision events due to micrometeorites."