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Scientists over the moon for the launch of NASA's solar probe to the sun



CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Speechless is not a word normally used to describe Nicky Fox, a mission scientist for the Parker Solar Probe at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab. But that was her reaction early in the morning (12 August) as she watched the NASA Parker Solar Probe launch on an unprecedented mission to the Sun.

"It was very emotional," Fox told Space.com. "I was speechless and usually I'm not speechless."

The morning sky brightened like daylight as a Delta IV Heavy lifted off from the United Launch Alliance at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the Parker solar probe over humanity carried a mission to touch the sun. As nice as the start spectacle was, the actual celebration took place just over an hour later. [Launch Photos: Parker Solar Probe Soars to the Sun!]

  The United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket, which carries NASA's Parker Solar Probe, will launch on August 12, 2018 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It's the first mission ever to touch the sun.

Alliance Delta IV rocket with NASA Parker Solar Probe launches on August 12, 2018 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It's the first mission ever to touch the sun.

Credit: NASA / Bill Ingalls

Cheers erupted in the press office and a collective sigh of relief was breathed as the news came that the spacecraft was parting from the third stage of the missile – built by Northrop Grumman and the first communication beamed.

The Parker Solar Probe

"The spaceship is power-positive and that's where we want to be," said Thomas Zurbuchen, Deputy Administrator of NASA's Scientific Mission. "Whenever you're there, you take a break and then you start working."

The mission, which has been in demand for 60 years, was due to launch on July 31, but was rejected several times due to various technical issues. Less than two minutes before the scheduled start on Saturday (August 11), a helium pressure alert on the Delta IV Heavy started and thwarted the launch attempt of the day.

But that was not the case on Sunday when flames broke out. The rocket woke at the beginning of the 65-minute window. This calmed down any pre-launch issues that Fox might have.

  A representation of the Parker solar probe at work around the sun.

The representation of the Parker solar probe at work around the sun

Credit: APL / NASA GSFC

"There was no emotional roller coaster like yesterday," said Fox after the start. "Heaven was waiting for us, Venus was waiting for us, and it was just an amazing sight." [NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Mission in Pictures]

The Delta IV Heavy is slowly leaving the field and Fox explains that she already knew this fact at launch, so it was no reason to worry about seeing the payload she's been working on for the past eight years and ascend majestically from the launch pad. "It took awhile for the Delta IV Heavy to clear the block," Fox said, "but I was prepared for that, so I did not panic."

The Parker The introduction of Solar Probe represented a special milestone for a solar scientist: Eugene Parker, after all, the spacecraft was named after him. 60 years ago, it was Parker who Suggested that the sun send out a stream of solar wind Probe is the first NASA ever named after a living person.

"There is nothing better than launching a rocket live," said Parker, now 91, watching the launch of NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

  Solar scientist Eugene Parker watches the NASA Parker Solar Probe named after him launch into space on August 12, 2018 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The spaceship flies through the outer atmosphere of the sun, the super-glowing corona.

The solar scientist Eugene Parker observes How the NASA Parker Solar Probe, named for him, launches into space from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on August 12, 2018. The spaceship flies through the outside atmosphere of the sun, the super-hot corona.

Credit: NASA / Glenn Benson

Sitting on NASA's observation deck Operations Support Building 2 (OSB-2 for short), Parker watched with his family, Fox, Zurbuch and other VIPs, like the rocket that bore his namesake , ascended to heaven.

"Now I have to bite off my nails thinking about the interesting things [to come] that I do not know yet, which will be clarified, I suppose, in the next five, six or seven years," he said. [The Greatest Missions to the Sun]

After the start, Zurbuchen explained how incredible it was to pursue the start with Parker.

"What's so cool about all this is hanging out with Parker and seeing his emotions," said Zurbuchen, adding that Parker was thrilled with the enthusiasm, the launch, and the upcoming science. Parker assured Parker that he would send the famous solar scientist data from the mission as soon as it came in. (The first bits of the sun data are expected in November, mission scientists said.)

The Sunday flight marked the 129th successful flight for ULA, and the 10th for the Delta IV Heavy Rocket.

"We are excited about the launch and have been honored to have been entrusted with this mission," said Tory Bruno, president and CEO of ULA to Space.com after the launch. "Parker Solar Probe will enable groundbreaking research and make space safer."

Parker Solar Probe will conduct a series of tests over the next few weeks to ensure that the four instrument suites function properly. The spaceship will also be prepared for the first of seven scheduled Venus fly-bys scheduled for October 2nd. The next step after that will be to complete its very first solar strike in November.

Follow us [19659031] @ Spacedotcom Facebook and Google+ . Original article on Space.com .


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