Parker Solar Probe blasts off to ‘touch the sun’

Parker Solar Probe launch
A United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy rocket sends NASA’s Parker Solar Probe spaceward from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. (NASA via YouTube)

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.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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