NASA Launched Parker Solar Probe On Voyage to Touch the Sun

The Delta IV rocket carrying the Parker Solar Probe lifts off from launch complex 37 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral on Sunday

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The probe rocket launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida early yesterday morning, following an aborted attempt the day before. "I was speechless and I'm not normally speechless".

Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying NASA's Parker Solar Probe spacecraft lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 on August 12 at 3:31 a.m. EDT. As gorgeous as the launch spectacle was, the real celebration happened just over an hour later. Due to the extremely high energy required for the mission, the Delta IV Heavy's capability was enhanced by a third stage provided by Northrop Grumman.

"Congratulations to Decatur-based United Launch Alliance on successfully launching the * a class="_58cn" href="" data-ft="{"tn":"*N","type":104}" *#ParkerSolarProbe, which will study the sun's outer atmosphere and space weather.

"The key lies in its custom heat shield and an autonomous system that helps protect the mission from the Sun's intense light emission, but does allow the coronal material to "touch" the spacecraft", NASA said in a statement. "Whenever you're there, you take a breather and then you start working".

The satellite was due to lift off on Saturday, but a technical fault forced the U.S. space agency to postpone the launch, The Guardian reports.

But Sunday's bid "went off like clockwork", said NASA launch manager Omar Baez.

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"One of those mysteries is the corona", said Fox at a briefing ahead of the launch. "The sky was waiting for us, Venus was waiting for us, and it was just an wonderful sight to see".

"All I can say is, 'Wow, here we go.' We're in for some learning over the next several years", Parker said. After all, the spacecraft is named in his honor. The mission is named after Solar physicist Eugene Parker and it's the first mission to be named after a living person. "We've accomplished something that decades ago, lived exclusively in the realm of science fiction", said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate. He watched the launch from the Laurel center, where the mission will be operated.

NASA's Parker Solar Probe is on its way for a rendezvous with the Sun.

Sunday's flight marked the 129th successful flight for ULA, and the 10th for the Delta IV Heavy rocket. "We at NASA and the Launch Services Program are thrilled to be part of this mission". A microchip containing names of more than 1.1 million space enthusiasts who wished to have their names near the Sun, photos of Parker and a copy of his 1958 scientific paper that proposed the solar wind have been sent. Instrument testing will begin in early September and last approximately four weeks, after which Parker Solar Probe can begin science operations.

The spacecraft will zip past Venus in October, setting up the first solar encounter in November.

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