Back in mid-March, we posted an article about sending your name to the Sun on the Parker Solar Probe. The probe successfully completed a round of tests mimicking the conditions the spacecraft will face in space throughout its seven-year mission, including checking the spacecraft’s functions under hot and cold extremes, cycling the temperatures in a thermal vacuum chamber back and forth between hot and cold, making sure Parker Solar Probe’s systems and components operate properly.
Parker, shown here inside half of its fairing in Titusville, FL, went through its final encapsulation at Astrotech Space Operations before its move to the Cape Canaveral complex. Parker’s launch vehicle will be a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy., the second largest payload delivery system in the world. Only the new SpaceX Falcon Heavy is larger.
The Delta IV uses two liquid fuel boosters and a second stage to achieve orbit. The first stage and two boosters produce 710,000 pounds of thrust each. That’s a lot of horsepower.
The probe is designed to travel through the Sun’s corona, the outer layer of its atmosphere, at a temperature of 2,500 degrees F, 4 million miles from the Sun’s surface. The shield protecting the four groups of instruments is like nothing designed before. The probe will travel at a speed of about 430,000 mph.
The Parker Solar Probe’s launch date is now set for August 11, 2018.
Stay tuned as we get closer to launch date and thereafter. We’re sure you’ll want to know more about the Sun as the data comes in.