NASA shifts launch of spacecraft to the Sun

NASA's Parker Solar Probe Rolls Out to Launchpad for Sun Touching Mission

NASA's Parker Solar Probe Rolls Out to Launchpad for Sun Touching Mission

Reaching the required speed means the Parker Solar Probe needs one of the most powerful rockets ever built.

The reason for the delay was not immediately clear, but was called for after a gaseous helium alarm was sounded in the last moments before the lift off, according to the officials.

A last-minute technical hitch forced controllers at the Florida space centre to cancel the night-time launch of the Parker Solar Probe, announcing that they would try again on Sunday.

By coming closer to the Sun than any spacecraft in history, the unmanned probe's main goal is to unveil the secrets of the corona, the unusual atmosphere around the Sun.

Knowing more about the solar wind and space storms will also help protect future deep space explorers as they journey toward the Moon or Mars.

The probe is protected by a 4in-thick shield that constantly repositions itself between the sun's power and the scientific instruments on board.

When it does launch, the Parker Solar Probe will get as close as 3.83 million miles to the sun's surface. That's about 95 percent of the way to the surface from Earth and is within the outer atmosphere known as the corona.

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The launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft was scrubbed today due to a violation of a launch limit, resulting in a hold.

The spacecraft eventually will run out of fuel and, no longer be able to keep its heat shield pointed toward the Sun, will burn and break apart - except perhaps for the rugged heat shield.

The probe is equipped with a 4 1/2-inch thick carbon-carbon heat shield created to withstand temperatures of about 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Parker, now 91, recalled that at first some people did not believe in his theory.

"It was just a matter of sitting out the deniers for four years until the Venus Mariner 2 spacecraft showed that, by golly, there was a solar wind", Parker said earlier this week.

But then, with one minutes and 55 seconds to go before the new time, NASA halted the launch.

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