A Falcon 9 rocket blasted off Wednesday carrying SpaceX’s first high-priority science mission for NASA, a planet-hunting space telescope whose launch had been delayed for two days by a rocket-guidance glitch.
The Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, lifted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 6:51 p.m. EDT, starting the clock on a two-year quest to detect more worlds circling stars beyond our solar system that might harbor life.
The main-stage booster successfully separated from the upper stage of the rocket and headed back to Earth on a self-guided return flight to an unmanned landing vessel floating in the Atlantic.
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The first stage, which can be recycled for future flights, then landed safely on the ocean platform, according to SpaceX launch team announcers on NASA TV.
Liftoff followed a postponement forced by a technical glitch in the rocket’s guidance-control system. VOA
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