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SpaceX launches NASA’s planet-hunting TESS probe

SpaceX Falcon 9 launch
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lofts NASA’s TESS probe into space. (NASA via YouTube)

SpaceX has launched NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, kicking off a mission aimed at surveying nearly the entire sky for exoplanets.

The probe rose into space atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, sent up from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 6:51 p.m. ET (3:51 p.m. PT) today.

TESS was supposed to take off on April 16, but the launch teams said they wanted more time for guidance, navigation and control analysis. No issues were reported this time around.

Minutes after launch, SpaceX landed the Falcon 9’s first-stage booster on an autonomous drone ship named “Of Course I Still Love You,” hundreds of miles out in the Atlantic. Over the past two years, such landings have become routine.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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