The Kepler telescope lifted off on March 6 from Cape Canaveral, Fla., heading to the stars. Its mission is to scour a section of the sky to find planets like Earth that might be able to sustain life.
NASA officials said the goal is to look for orbiting stars at distances where water could pool on the planet’s surface.
The mission is expected to last three to five years. The stars the Kepler will be monitoring are in the range of a few hundred to a few thousand light years.
The RS-27A engine, made by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, is driving the craft into space. This is the 227th time the Hartford-based company’s engines have boosted a flight into space.
NASA officials said the Kepler spacecraft is about 9 feet in diameter and 15.3 feet high. Inside the rocket is an astronomical telescope. The project’s life-cycle cost is approximately $600 million.