Spaceflight Insider

ULA successfully launches Solar Probe aboard Atlas V

The Solar Orbiter above the Sun. Image Credit: ESA

The Solar Orbiter above the Sun. Image Credit: ESA

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launched a NASA probe its way to our Sun. At 11:03 p.m. EDT, February 9, the rocket left Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41) located at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

An Atlas V rocket delivered the Solar Orbiter research spacecraft “to an interplanetary trajectory to the Sun” according to the mission overview statement released by ULA. The science and research collected throughout this mission will one day help forecast space weather for humans in space while studying the sun’s outer atmosphere and solar wind.

The European Space Agency is responsible for the operation of the spacecraft after launch (which is being managed by NASA’s launch services) through at least 2029 when the Solar Orbiter is predicted to reach the solar equator using gravity assist maneuvers around earth and Venus. The suite of ten scientific instruments were built in the United States and Europe for the purpose of “close up high latitude images of the sun” according to ULA.

The hope throughout this mission of discovery is to help us better understand how the heliosphere permeates our solar system and planets within thus contributing essential science for space travel and its effects on technologies on earth. The spacecraft is also expected to show us the first images of the Sun’s north and south poles.




Theresa Cross grew up on the Space Coast. It’s only natural that she would develop a passion for anything “Space” and its exploration. During these formative years, she also discovered that she possessed a talent and love for defining the unique quirks and intricacies that exist in mankind, nature, and machines. Hailing from a family of photographers—including her father and her son, Theresa herself started documenting her world through pictures at a very early age. As an adult, she now exhibits an innate photographic ability to combine what appeals to her heart and her love of technology to deliver a diversified approach to her work and artistic presentations. Theresa has a background in water chemistry, fluid dynamics, and industrial utility.

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