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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA on Monday hopes to begin its next hunt for an out-of-this-solar-system quarry: thousands of planets orbiting other stars, some of which might be habitable.

 A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is targeting a 6:32 p.m. liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station with NASA’s $337 million Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS.

Surveying nearly the entire sky, the minimum two-year mission expects to find some 20,000 so-called exoplanets around nearby, bright stars, ranging from rocky Earth-size planets to gas giants.

The mission will produce a huge catalog of exoplanets “with the hope that someday in the next decades we’ll be able to identify the potential for life to exist outside the solar system,” said Jeff Volosin, the mission’s project manager from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

“We are ready to go,” Volosin said Sunday during a pre-launch news conference at Kennedy Space Center.

Severe storms Sunday night that held the potential to delay the rocket from going vertical were expected to clear for Monday’s 30-second launch window.

Forecasters predict an 80 percent chance of favorable conditions at Launch Complex 40.
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