We have lift off! NASA's finally launches its $1.5bn Parker Solar Probe on a historic mission to the SUN after a 24-hour blast-off delay

The $1.5billion (£1.17billion) Parker Probe blasted off atop one of the most powerful rockets in the world.
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NASA have finally sent a spacecraft on a mission to fly where no probe has ever gone before – into the sun’s scorching outer atmosphere.

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket with the Parker Solar Probe onboard is seen shortly after the Mobile Service Tower was rolled back in the early hours of this morning


The probe took off at 3.31am ET (8.32 BST) this morning. It was initially set to launch at 3.33am ET (8.33am BST) yesterday.

It is on an unprecedented quest that will take it straight through the edges of the corona, or outer solar atmosphere, just 3.8 million miles from the sun's surface.  

About four minutes into flight, a series of key events occured in rapid succession, NASA said this morning.

Both the port and starboard booster engines shut down and separated from the spacecradt.

Then the main booster engine cutoff and separated from the booster for the second stage.

The second stage main engine then ignited.


Yesterday the agency had until 4.38am in Florida (9.38am BST) to take off but a 'condition' meant they missed the window, leaving people disappointed around the world as they tuned into the livestream. 

The $1.5billion (£1.17billion) Parker Probe blasted off atop one of the most powerful rockets in the world.

It will eventually hit record-breaking speeds of up to 430,000 miles per hour as it completes 24 orbits of the sun over the course of seven years.

During this time, the craft will swing around Venus seven times, using the planet’s gravity to push it closer and closer to our star with each pass; eventually, the Parker probe will get within 3.8 million miles of the sun’s surface.    

It will make its first fly past Venus in October, and is protected by a revolutionary new heat shield.

That will set up the first solar encounter in November.

It will be subjected to temperatures of roughly 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,371C) when it comes closer to the sun than any spacecraft in history – but, behind its thick heat shield, it will only feel like a hot summer day, with this sheltered region maxing out at about 85F (29C).

We have lift off! The probe took off after a 24-hour delay this morning, it will be within 3.8 miles of the sun      +17

The $1.5billion (£1.17billion) Parker Probe blasted off atop one of the most powerful rockets in the world +17

Into the sky! The probe will be subjected to temperatures of roughly 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,371C) when it comes closer to the sun than any spacecraft in history

The launch window at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida opened at 8.53am yesterday morning,  but was delayed as NASA investigated 'a condition'.

 'At this time, our Parker Solar Probe launch team is in a no-go status as we await further details. Teams are investigating a condition.

'Today's window opened for liftoff at 3.33am ET and closes at 4.38am ET' they said.



They later said the vehicle was cleared for launch, and would take off at 4.28am.



The probe will rely on a series of gravity assists from Venus to slow down its sideways motion, allowing it to get just 3.8 million miles away from the sun’s surface. This will put the Parker probe well within the sun’s corona, which extends about 5 million miles above the surface. No spacecraft has ever ventured so close to the sun
The United Launch Alliance Delta IV heavy rocket with the Parker Solar Probe is illuminated ahead of launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station


United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket with the Parker Solar Probe onboard shortly after the Mobile Service Tower was rolled back this morning

But the Parker Solar Probe did not launch from Cape Canaveral until this morning atop a ULA Delta IV Heavy, already one of the most powerful rockets in the world, with a third stage attached.


Crews at the space agency will now have until August 23 to complete the take-off, as this is when the launch window closes.  

This mission will require 55 times more energy than would be needed to reach Mars, according to NASA.
The probe will rely on a series of gravity assists from Venus to slow down its sideways motion, allowing it to get just 3.8 million miles away from the sun’s surface.

As NASA engineer Bobak Ferdowsi pointed out on Twitter, that’s the equivalent distance of just 4.43 suns positioned next to each other.

This will put the Parker probe well within the sun’s corona, which extends about 5 million miles above the surface.

‘We’ll be going where no spacecraft has dared go before – within the corona of a star,’ said project scientist Nicky Fox, of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.

‘With each orbit, we’ll be seeing new regions of the sun’s atmosphere and learning things about stellar mechanics that we’ve wanted to explore for decades.’


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