Departing: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida                Arriving: Sun, Milky Way

Departure: SLC-37B Date: 8/12/2018  Time: 3:31 AM EDT       Arrival: 2025

Craft: United Launch Alliance Delta-IV Heavy +3rd Stage

Payload: Parker Solar Probe


Manufacturer: John’s Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Mission Science Directorate: John’s Hopkins University

Top Speed: 430,000 MPH  (700,000 KPH)

Travel Distance: 93,000,000 Miles

This will be the FASTEST spacecraft EVER manufactured and launched hitting 430,000 MPH as it nears our Sun. The probe will penetrate the Sun’s 1,000,000 degrees coronal plasma and approach the sun facing 2,500 Fahrenheit temperatures approaching about 3.9 million miles from the surface of the Sun.

Image: ULA

So how do the spacecraft and its instruments survive this wickedly hot adventure? A Heat Shield. This shield is so effective that the instruments which lie within its shadow will be operating at a ‘cool’ 85 degrees Fahrenheit, the Summer temperature of the Atlantic Ocean just feet from the launch pad. Only the electric field antennas and a small
plasma detector will brave direct heat from the Sun.

The launch rocket, a Delta-IV Heavy, is the most powerful rocket on earth to deliver a spacecraft to a rendezvous near Venus for 7 laps then a gravity assist to hit its target. The boost to space is provided by the RS-68A (3) which burns cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen and delivers 705,250 LBF of thrust at sea level. The 2nd Stage Cryogenic R10-B-2 is a customary stage for DeltaIV missions. The 3rd Stage was added for the longer duration flight, TO THE SUN! 

Delta IV Heavy Image: ULA

The Delta-IV Heavy launched the Orion spacecraft, EFT-1, its first test mission. That launch vehicle, photo below, lacked the 3rd stage being used to take the Solar Probe much further into space. Many Visitors, Dignitaries, Employees, and Media will be viewing from this same position.

Delta IV Heavy Orion EFT-1

About The Man: Dr. Eugene Newman Parker – (1) In the mid-1950s, a young physicist named Eugene Parker proposed a number of concepts about how stars—including our Sun—give off energy. He called this cascade of energy the solar wind, and he described an entire complex system of plasmas, magnetic fields, and energetic particles that make up this phenomenon. Professor Parker also theorized an explanation for the superheated solar corona, which is (counterintuitively) hotter than the surface of the Sun itself: nanoflares, which in enough abundance could cause this heating.

Dr.Eugene Newman Parker Image: NASA/JHUAPL

The final payload closeout was performed at, and by, Astrotech of Titusville, Florida.

Image: NASA/JHUAPL/EdWhitman

NASA in an effort to build its fan base created an entry on its website to register your name on a ‘Ticket’ that was embedded on a chip to fly with the spacecraft. Let’s Go!!!!


Departure Date and Time Subject To Change. Check back for updates.

For additional information visit:   Parker Solar Probe 

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(1) NASA Facts Publication/JHUAPL_17-01677_06.21.18


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