NASA's New TESS Exoplanet Hunting Satellite to Launch Soon

#1
Yazata Offline
Scheduled to launch on April 16, lofted into a distant orbit (with a 13 day orbital period) by a SpaceX Falcon 9.  TESS stands for 'Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite'. The orbit that it's shooting for will allow it to last for decades without falling prey to Tiangong's fiery fate.

The distant orbit suggests that it will require all of the booster's fuel to attain, so I guessing that SpaceX won't attempt to recover the booster. I gather that SpaceX is using up all of their "legacy" Falcon 9's currently in stock, many of them already used ('flight proven'), in anticipation of introducing the new block 5 Falcon 9's later this year. The block 5's reportedly have a number of improvements and upgrades designed to enhance their reusabiity.

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2018/04/03/n...orlds.html

The new TESS satellite is intended to replace the old Kepler exoplanet hunter, which is currently 'running on fumes'.

TESS is supposed to be able to survey 85% of the sky for exoplanets, monitoring thousands of stars for signs of periodic transits. Part of its job is to locate suitable candidates for further investigation by the new and improved James Webb Space Telescope due to replace the Hubble in 2020. But its ability to survey most of the sky should allow astronomers to get a better sample of what kind of exoplanets are out there and where they are located, allowing humans to create a more complete catalog of planets around other stars.
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#2
Yazata Offline
Due to launch this Monday (April 16) at 6:32 PM EDT (3:32 PDT, 10:32 UTC). Live coverage begins at 6:00 EDT (t - 32 min) The launch will be live-streamed by NASA (instead of SpaceX which usually streams them). NASA will have some other programming about TESS as well. The links are here:

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-...ng-mission
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#3
Yazata Offline
Here's another livestream (beginning this afternoon) from SpaceX's website. SpaceX says that they will be trying to land the booster on their drone-ship/barge out in the Atlantic. I'm guessing that the SpaceX stream will be a better place to see that booster landing and that NASA's stream will concentrate on the deployment of their satellite from the second stage. NASA's the payload customer while the landing is entirely a SpaceX thing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aY-0uBIYYKk
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#5
C C Offline
(Apr 16, 2018 11:05 PM)Yazata Wrote: It's been scrubbed for today due to an unspecified "issue" with the rocket. Launch of TESS has been rescheduled to Wednesday.

https://www.space.com/40322-spacex-nasa-...delay.html


Until they change it yet again, seems to be scheduled for 6:51 p.m. EDT today. For London, add five hours.

Russia appears to have surrendered to SpaceX in the global launch market
https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/04/...ch-market/

EXCERPT: As recently as 2013, Russia controlled about half of the global commercial launch industry with its fleet of rockets, including the Proton boosters. But technical problems with the Proton, as well as competition from SpaceX and other players, has substantially eroded the Russian share. This year, it may only have about 10 percent of the commercial satellite launch market, compared to as much as 50 percent for SpaceX.

~
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#6
Yazata Offline
TESS is currently in a parking orbit, awaiting the second stage lighting up a second time for another burn that will throw TESS into a highly elliptical orbit whose apogee is very distant from Earth.

The Falcon 9 first stage faithfully powered the second stage and TESS up into orbit and then returned successfully, landing in the middle of the X on SpaceX's 'drone ship'/barge in the Atlantic ocean.

https://www.nasa.gov/tess-transiting-exo...-satellite

https://blogs.nasa.gov/tess/

Second stage's second burn went well and TESS has separated from the second stage successfully. It's deploying its solar arrays and is communicating with NASA. At the moment it's above Australia, more or less. The second stage second burn occurred over the Indian Ocean.

Apparently TESS is moving away from the Earth now, headed for an apogee out near the Moon's orbit, where the plan is to use the Moon's gravity to shape TESS' orbit into its desired configuration. They say it will be an orbit around Earth in a stable 2:1 resonance with the Moon and will have an orbital period of 13 1/2 days. (Apparently this is the first time they ever tried this.) It will take about 60 days to achieve the proper orbit.

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files...raft23.pdf

https://tess.mit.edu/
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#7
Yazata Offline
Jonathan McDowell says that TESS should make a Moon fly-by on May 17 and settle into its exoplanet viewing orbit June 12.

It sounds like TESS won't be lazing around during that time either, doing its nails. Instead it will be undergoing a series of instrument checks to verify that everything's working and perhaps to calibrate things now that it's up there in vacuum and space thermal regime.
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