It has been quite a week for Orbital Sciences Corporation. Following the successful maiden launch of its Antares rocket on Sunday, OSC reported first quarter earnings on Monday, and they too were strong, showing a 31% growth in operating income. Today, the company annouced that it has been selected by NASA to build the Transiting Exo Planet Survey Satellite or TESS, which is scheduled to launch in 2017. TESS is intended to serve as a sort of targeting instrument for the James Webb Space Telescope, building on the work of the Kepler Space Telescope which has imaged distant star systems, by searching instead for promising exoplanets in relatively nearby star systems. Launching a year ahead of JWST, TESS is expected to be able to tell researchers where to aim JWST, and just possibly provide the first ever images of Earth sized planets orbiting in a star’s habitable zone.
The full OSC press release is here.