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SpaceX rocket booster lands on floating platform; Tess satellite headed toward orbit

FLORIDA — Just minutes after launching NASA’s planet-hunting spacecraft, the SpaceX rocket booster is back on Earth.

The first-stage booster landed Wednesday evening on a floating platform in the Atlantic, just off the Florida coast. The Tess satellite, meanwhile, kept heading toward orbit with help from the Falcon rocket’s second stage. It will take two months for Tess to reach its final scientific orbit, which will stretch all the way to the moon.

Tess, or the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, will peer at hundreds of thousands of bright neighboring stars, seeking planets that could support life. Scientists expect Tess to identify thousands of planets in our cosmic backyard.

SpaceX plans to use the recovered booster for NASA’s next grocery run to the International Space Station. It is the 24th booster landing for SpaceX, which aims to reduce launch costs by reusing rocket parts.