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NASA's Parker Solar Probe, the first mission "to touch" the sun, will cover approximately 4 million miles from its surface to study the corona.
Florida Today

Following the recent launch error, a $ 1.5 billion NASA – Science mission to touch the sun, as little as have nine days to fly from Cape Canaveral next month, before they have to suspend until next year.

The Parker Solar Probe now targets a launch before dawn on August 11 on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy Rocket. This is a five-day test for further inspection after the teams found a small strip of foam inside the rocket nose cone that covered the spacecraft.

The seven-year mission must start by August 19 to organize Venus fly-bys

"There is always a chance we can push for a few extra days, but that's our window," the spokeswoman said NASA, Karen Fox, during a press conference at the Kennedy Space Center last week. "The point is that we have to go to Venus at the right time, so we would have to adjust to a different start time for this planetary necessity."

The current 20-day Planet Window officially opens on July 31, but a series of technical issues has claimed more than half of the possible launch days.

Additional spacecraft software testing pushed the target date to August 4th. Then a leaky tube in the ground support equipment at a Titusville processing plant added two more days. Most recently, the faulty foam strip was discovered in the nose cone, which will protect the spacecraft as it ascends through the atmosphere aboard the Delta IV Heavy.

Nine days should allow plenty of time to launch the mission under normal conditions, but there is more risk that start scrubs or a flood of uncooperative weather could exhaust the window.

At least early morning start – 03.48 on 11 August – usually offers better weather than summer afternoons and evenings in Central Florida, when thunderstorms are so widespread.

In the unlikely event that it is needed, the next planetary window would be next May, followed by another about a year later.

The Parker solar probe will then fly within 3.8 million miles closer to the sun's surface than any previous mission. A series of instruments will help solve puzzles surrounding the overheated atmosphere of the sun or corona and the physics behind violent solar storms and the solar wind, a supersonic current of particles and radiation.

A Specially Designed Heat Shield Protects The vehicle is moved at 24 ° C through the corona at temperatures of 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, while keeping the body of the probe at a pleasant 85 degrees.

Before NASA and the ULA attempt to launch the solar probe, SpaceX hopes to launch another international communications satellite Cape early on August 4.

That would be the third launch of the company in two weeks. On Wednesday morning, a Falcon 9 successfully launched three Iridium NEXT satellites from California, three days after the launch of the Telstar 19 Vantage satellite from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Sunday.

Both missions successfully landed the first stage of the Falcon 9 missile launchers on ships at sea to make them available for launch.

SpaceX has now completed 14 launches a year.

Contact Dean at 321-242-3668 or jdean@floridatoday.com. And follow up on Twitter at @flatoday_jdean and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FlameTrench.

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