Falcon 9 Certified for NASA Science Missions Ahead of TESS Launch

The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle has received NASA certification to launch science missions. The certification will cover the upcoming launch of the agency’s TESS satellite that had originally been scheduled to lift off no later than March 20.

The announcement of the Falcon 9 certification came with the 2019 budget proposal released this month. “In January 2018, SpaceX successfully completed ‘Category 2’ certification of the SpaceX Falcon 9 ‘Full Thrust’ with LSP which supports the launch of the NASA Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission in March 2018,” it read.

This latest certification is the rocket’s Category 2 certification which it completed on January 11. The category requires between one and three consecutive successful missions and allows for the launch of what the agency refers to as “medium risk” science missions. Additional Falcon 9 certification is ongoing which NASA hopes to complete soon.

Many involved with the upcoming launch of the TESS satellite were concerned that late last year, the Falcon 9 had yet to receive the required certification. However, the delay in the launch vehicle’s certification is reportedly not the reason for delays in the launch schedule. In a statement Tweeted by space journalist, Jeff Foust, NASA officials explained that “SpaceX requested additional time for hardware readiness and to meet NASA launch service mission requirements.”

The launch of the TESS satellite is now scheduled for no later than April 16, 2018.

Image Credit: SpaceX

Andrew Parsonson is a space enthusiast and the founder of Rocket Rundown. He has worked as a journalist and blogger for various industries for over 5 years and has a passion for both fictional and real-life space travel. Currently, Andrew is the primary writer for Rocket Rundown as we look to expand our reach and credibility.