NASA today sent a super-shielded spacecraft known as the Parker Solar Probe on a mission that will take it closer to the sun than any other spacecraft has flown, with the probe’s namesake, a 91-year-old physicist, watching the launch.
A blazing United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy rocket rose into the night sky from its launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 3:31 a.m. ET (12:31 a.m. PT), one day after concerns over a data glitch forced a postponement.
Three rocket stages powered the probe on the first leg of its sunward journey.
“All I can say is, wow, here we go, we’re in for some learning over the next several years,” University of Chicago solar physicist Eugene Parker said just after liftoff.