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Launch of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe delayed

Artist’s concept of the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft approaching the Sun. Launching in 2018, Parker Solar Probe is designed to provide new data on solar activity and make critical contributions to our ability to forecast major space-weather events that impact life on Earth. Image & Caption Credit: JHU-APL

Artist’s concept of the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft approaching the Sun. Launching in 2018, Parker Solar Probe is designed to provide new data on solar activity and make critical contributions to our ability to forecast major space-weather events that impact life on Earth. Image & Caption Credit: JHU-APL

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — NASA announced on Wednesday, July 18 that the launch of the agency’s Parker Solar Probe mission, which is designed to “touch” the Sun – had been delayed an additional two days. 

NASA provided the following reason as to why the flight had been delayed: Additional time was needed to evaluate the configuration of a cable clamp on the payload fairing. Teams have modified the configuration and encapsulation operations have continued.

A leak that had been discovered on the Delta IV Heavy rocket’s third stage purge ground support tubing has been repaired. This issue was discovered last week. 

NASA tapped United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy rocket to launch the probe from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 37 in Florida.

If everything goes as it is currently planned, the Parker Solar Probe should help redefine the way we think of the Sun. Flying close to our parent star, the Parker Solar Probe is described by the space agency as “the first spacecraft to fly directly through the Sun’s corona…

The heat and radiation it will encounter, while dangerous, should provide scientists with a clearer understanding of  physics of stars like our Sun. Perhaps more importantly for the U.S’ crewed space aspirations as well as how the space environment impacts satellites orbiting our home world – this mission could provide a clearer understanding of how the Sun influences space “weather.”

 

 

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Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

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