SpaceX to Build Mars Rocket at Port of Los Angeles

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On Monday, SpaceX will attempt to land the rocket's first stage on a ship offshore in the Atlantic Ocean.

Elon Musk is known to boldly do things no man has ever done before and this time, he has turned his attention to SpaceX's rocket stages.

NASA emphasized that the satellite, which is a little smaller than a subcompact auto, was in "excellent health and remains ready for launch" from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The company plans to use this ambitious new vessel - whose acronym name stands for "Big Falcon Rocket" (or a less-family-friendly version of that name) - to send people to Mars by 2024 and set up a colony on the Red Planet within the next 50 to 100 years. But he said there is something new happening Monday - SpaceX will fire the second stage to kick it out of orbit, so that it doesn't become space trash in orbit.

In addition, SpaceX is now trying to recover its payload fairing that is the big nose cone on the Falcon 9.

Guidance, navigation and control is always important for a space mission - but for TESS, the task is particularly complex.

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Tess will make up for that, as it will spend two years observing 200,000 of the brightest stars in the sky, a lot of them located no more than 300 light years away.

The second and upper stage continues its trajectory once the first stage has fallen away.

"They are going to be orbiting the nearest, brightest stars", Elisa Quintana, TESS scientist at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center, told reporters on Sunday.

Inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space Center, NASA's TESS was being prepared for an April 16 launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. With TESS, it will be possible to study the mass, size, density and orbit of a large cohort of small planets, including a sample of rocky worlds in the habitable zones of their host stars.

Nasa is poised to launch a $337 million washing machine-sized spacecraft that aims to vastly expand mankind's search for planets beyond our solar system, particularly closer, Earth-sized ones that might harbor life. TESS will certainly offer prime targets for additional characterization by the James Webb Room Telescope, in addition to various other huge ground-based as well as space-based telescopes of the future. Kepler stared at 250,000 distant stars in a cross-shaped area equal to 0.25 percent of the sky, and identified the signatures of more than 5,000 confirmed planets and candidates.

Contact Dean at 321-242-3668 or jdean@floridatoday.com.

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