The launch of NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, was a success Wednesday evening.
The spacecraft rode into Earth orbit atop a Falcon 9 rocket, at the opening of a 30-second launch window.
NASA confirmed that, by Wednesday night, TESS was flying solo with solar arrays deployed and drawing power.
Now comes a two-month climb to the final orbit for TESS, along with a full checkout of all systems to ensure the spacecraft will be up to its two-year mission.
TESS is described as NASA’s next step in the search for planets outside of our solar system, known as exoplanets, including those that could support life.
Scientists say the mission is expected to catalog thousands of planet candidates and vastly increase the current number of known exoplanets.
NASA's mission description says TESS will be tasked with finding 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.
The TESS mission will find exoplanets that periodically block part of the light from their host stars, events called transits.
TESS will survey 200,000 of the brightest stars near the sun to search for transiting exoplanets.