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The rocket is scheduled to blast off with Tess at 6:51 p.m. Wednesday.

The Tess satellite will scan nearly the entire sky, starting at the brightest, closest stars in an effort to find any planets that might be encircling them.

NASA's latest astrophysics instrument will be carried aloft by a Falcon 9 rocket from the fleet of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's private launch service, Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX.

It was scrubbed hours before the Monday window when the space company made a decision to conduct more analysis of the guidance, navigation and control systems. The $337 million spacecraft will detects brief dips in brightness as the planets pass in front of the stars during their orbits.

In all, it's expected to get a look at more than 200,000 stars and find about 1,600 planets, among them several dozen about the size of the Earth, and several hundred larger planets up to twice the size of Earth.

Tess - short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite - is the heir apparent to the wildly successful Kepler Space Telescope, the pioneer of planetary census.

The planets discovered by Kepler are too distant and too faint for practical study.

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"The planets discovered by TESS will be different, as TESS will search for planets around closer, brighter stars".

"This first-ever spaceborne all-sky transit survey will identify planets ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants, around a wide range of stellar types and orbital distances", NASA said in a statement.

On April 18, a new telescope with an eye for exoplanets will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the first of a coming wave of post-Hubble telescopes that will search the sky for foreign worlds. Some will orbit within the habitable zones of their stars, where it's not too hot or cold for liquid water to exist on the surface. Researchers would be able to use it to analyze the starlight that filters through the planets' atmospheres, looking for hints of habitability.

According to NASA, TESS' focus on nearer targets means that TESS planets should be much easier to learn more about, especially since more powerful telescopes, like the hopefully-soon-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope, will soon come online.

Meanwhile, the second stage will push TESS onward to orbit.

SpaceX will live-stream the launch below, as long as no weather changes or technological glitches end up postponing it further.

It maintained the TESS spacecraft was "in excellent health" and ready for launch.


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