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NASA Delays Mission to the Sun

On account of problem to a a cable clamp on the payload fairing, NASA announced on Wednesday it will be delaying the launch of the Parker Solar Probe to the Sun.
Parker Solar Probe 1 photo
The new launch date, says NASA, will be no earlier than August 6. Several issues have been plaguing the probe, including a leak in the purge ground support tubing on the third stage rocket motor (already fixed) and the cable clamp mentioned above.

“Teams have modified the configuration and encapsulation operations have continued,” the space agency said in a statement.

“Teams also have successfully repaired a leak in the purge ground support tubing on the third stage rocket motor, which was discovered during final spacecraft processing late last week.”

To be launched from Cape Canaveral on board a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket, the solar probe is meant to study the inner workings of the star’s corona.

Last week, NASA detailed the heat shield that is supposed to help the machine survive its encounter with the extreme heat in the region.

Called Thermal Protection System (TPS), it will make the probe capable of surviving temperatures of up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,371 degrees Celsius) while keeping the spacecraft and its instruments cool at 85 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius).

The probe will get within 4 million miles of the Sun's surface, a distance that may seem to be safe enough in terms of temperature, but very close by astronomical standards. On its way to the location, the probe will be traveling at speeds of up to 430,000 miles per hour.

The Parker Solar Probe was created by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, which will also operate the spacecraft during its mission. It is part of the NASA Living with a Star Program (or LWS), meant to explore aspects of the Sun-Earth system that directly affect life and society.

press release

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