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August 1, 2018

Parker Solar Probe Prepares to Head Toward Launch Pad

Parker Solar Probe

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is lifted to the third stage rocket motor on July 11, 2018, at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida. In addition to using the largest operational launch vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, Parker Solar Probe will use a third stage rocket to gain the speed needed to reach the Sun, which takes 55 times more energy than reaching Mars.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman

Parker Solar Probe

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is mated to the third stage rocket motor on July 11, 2018, at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida. In addition to using the largest operational launch vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, Parker Solar Probe will use a third stage rocket to gain the speed needed to reach the Sun, which takes 55 times more energy than reaching Mars.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman

The first mission to touch the Sun, Parker Solar Probe — designed, built and managed by APL for NASA — has cleared the final procedures in the clean room before its move to the launch pad, where it will be integrated onto its launch vehicle, a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy.

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is shown mated to its third stage rocket motor on July 16, 2018, at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida. In addition to using the largest operational launch vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, Parker Solar Probe will use a third stage rocket to gain the speed needed to reach the Sun, which takes 55 times more energy than reaching Mars.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman

On July 11, 2018, the spacecraft was lifted and mated to the third stage rocket motor, a Star 48BV from Northrop Grumman. In addition to using the largest operational launch vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, Parker Solar Probe will use a third stage rocket to gain the speed needed to reach the Sun, which takes 55 times more energy than reaching Mars.

On July 16, the spacecraft was encapsulated within its 62.7-foot fairing in preparation for the move from Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, to Space Launch Complex 37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where it will be integrated onto the Delta IV Heavy. Parker Solar Probe’s launch is targeted for Aug. 11, 2018.

Parker Solar Probe

Parker Solar Probe, shown on July 16, 2018, is mounted atop its third stage rocket motor with one half of the 62.7-foot tall fairing that will encapsulate it. After encapsulation, the spacecraft will move from Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, to Space Launch Complex 37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where it will be integrated onto its launch vehicle, a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman

Parker Solar Probe

Seen here inside one half of its 62.7-foot-tall fairing, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe was encapsulated on July 16, 2018, in preparation for the move from Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, to Space Launch Complex 37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where it will be integrated onto its launch vehicle, a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman

A mission 60 years in the making, Parker Solar Probe will make a historic journey to the Sun’s corona, a region of the solar atmosphere. With the help of its revolutionary heat shield, now permanently attached to the spacecraft in preparation for its scheduled Aug. 11, 2018, launch, the spacecraft’s orbit will carry it to within 3.83 million miles of the Sun’s fiercely hot surface, where it will collect unprecedented data about the inner workings of the corona.

Learn more at the Parker Solar Probe project site.

Media contact: Geoff Brown, 240-228-5618, Geoffrey.Brown@jhuapl.edu

The Applied Physics Laboratory, a not-for-profit division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit www.jhuapl.edu.