How to watch SpaceX launch NASA's TESS planet hunter today

Elon Musk's rocket company will send the satellite to orbit, where it will search for another Earth. You can watch the Falcon 9 launch live here.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
Expertise Solar, solar storage, space, science, climate change, deregulated energy, DIY solar panels, DIY off-grid life projects. CNET's "Living off the Grid" series. https://www.cnet.com/feature/home/energy-and-utilities/living-off-the-grid/ Credentials
  • Finalist for the Nesta Tipping Point prize and a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Eric Mack
2 min read

NASA is set to open a new era in the search for alien life Wednesday with the launch of TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. TESS will spot Earth-like worlds beyond our solar system and you can watch it leave Earth aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket right here.

As of Wednesday morning, SpaceX reports that all systems and weather are go for a launch from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 6:51 p.m. EDT.

The launch was originally set for Monday evening Eastern time. But about two hours before the planned launch, SpaceX said it had been delayed until Wednesday to make time for more guidance, navigation and control analysis. 

NASA TV is broadcasting TESS-related content up until the launch, and you can watch it all via the embedded video below. SpaceX should also be broadcasting the launch, as well as its attempt to land the first stage of the Falcon 9 on a droneship in the Atlantic. 

You'll want to hang on after the launch and landing to see TESS officially get sent on its way when it is deployed about 48 minutes after launch. 

There should be no issues with SpaceX being able to broadcast video from space as TESS is considered a public rather than commercial mission. SpaceX recently ran into a licensing snag with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration over its broadcasting video from orbit during commercial missions. 

While you wait for launch you can also watch my interview with one of the lead scientists from the TESS team, Sara Seager of MIT, in the video below. 

"To me, TESS represents the very first opportunity to really, truly make progress in this area of trying to find signs of life on other worlds," Seager told me.

Watch this: NASA set to launch exoplanet-hunting satellite

TESS is the successor of sorts to NASA's Kepler Space Telescope. It's designed to scan the sky for exoplanets within 300 light-years of Earth that can be cataloged and marked for further investigation by more powerful observatories like the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope.

After launch, there will be a two-month testing window before the real data starts flowing back to Earth from TESS. During that time, SpaceX will stay busy with some important launches like the debut of its "Block 5" Falcon 9 rocket, which could be reused up to 100 times. Falcon Heavy also has its first real mission (this one doesn't involve sending a used car into space) scheduled for June and a demonstration of its crew Dragon spacecraft later in the year.

First published April 16, 11:19 a.m. PT. 
Update, April 16, 1:41 p.m. PT: Adds that the launch has been pushed back until Wednesday. 
Update, April 18, 8:30 a.m. PT: Adds launch time and status.   

Technically Literate: Original works of short fiction with unique perspectives on tech, exclusively on CNET.

Crowd Control: A crowdsourced science fiction novel written by CNET readers.