Parker Solar Probe Launches on NASA Voyage to ‘Touch the Sun’

In total, the spacecraft will complete 24 orbits, and the mission is to end in 2025.

Atop three columns of flame at 3:31 a.m. Eastern time, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe lifted toward space on Sunday. The launch was the second attempt to carry the spacecraft, which NASA touts will “touch the sun” one day, into orbit after a scrub early on Saturday.

The probe — which will study the sun’s outer atmosphere as well as the stream of particles known as solar wind — was carried on top of a Delta IV Heavy rocket built and operated by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin. It is one of the most powerful rockets currently available. Its third stage gave the probe the extra kick it needs to escape Earth’s gravity at a high enough velocity to put it on course for Venus in November, and eventually the sun.


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