From the April 2018 issue

NASA Television to Air Launch of Next Planet-Hunting Mission

By | Published: April 13, 2018 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is set to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida no earlier than April 16, 2018. Once in orbit, TESS will spend about two years surveying 200,000 of the brightest stars near the sun to search for planets outside our solar system.
On a mission to detect planets outside of our solar system, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is scheduled to launch no earlier than 6:32 p.m. EDT Monday, April 16. Prelaunch mission coverage will begin on NASA Television and the agency’s website Sunday, April 15, with three live briefings.

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.

NASA TV coverage is as follows:

Sunday, April 15

11 a.m. – NASA Social Mission Overview

  • Martin Still, TESS program scientist at NASA Headquarters
  • Tom Barclay, TESS scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Jenn Burt, Torres postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Zach Berta-Thompson, assistant professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Natalia Guerrero, TESS researcher at MIT
  • Robert Lockwood, TESS spacecraft program manager with Orbital ATK
  • Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of Build and Flight Reliability at SpaceX
  • Jessie Christiansen, staff scientist with the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute at Caltech
  • Elisa Quintana, TESS scientist at Goddard

1 p.m. – Prelaunch news conference

  • Sandra Connelly, deputy associate administrator of programs for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate
  • Omar Baez, launch director for NASA’s Launch Services Program
  • Jeff Volosin, TESS project manager at Goddard
  • Mike McAleenan, weather officer with the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron
  • Robert Lockwood
  • Hans Koenigsmann

3 p.m. – Science news conference

  • Paul Hertz, Astrophysics division director at NASA Headquarters
  • George Ricker, TESS principal investigator at MIT
  • Padi Boyd, TESS Guest Investigator Program lead at Goddard
  • Stephen Rinehart, TESS project scientist at Goddard
  • Diana Dragomir, NASA Hubble postdoctoral fellow at MIT

Monday, April 16

10 a.m. – NASA EDGE: TESS     

This half-hour live show will discuss the TESS spacecraft, the science of searching for planets outside our solar system, and the launch from Cape Canaveral.
6 p.m. – Launch coverage begins

6:32 p.m. – Launch

TESS will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The deadline for media accreditation for this launch has passed. For information about media accreditation, contact

For the latest schedule of prelaunch briefings, events and NASA TV coverage, visit:

Learn more about TESS at: