NASA’s Sun Touching Parker Solar Probe Rolls to Cape Canaveral Launch Pad for Aug. 11 Blastoff: Photos

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe encapsulated in payload fairing is
on the move as its rolling from Astrotech processing
facility in Titusville on July 30 to
Space Launch
Complex-37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL for hoisting atop United Launch
Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket and launch targeted for Aug. 11, 2018. Credit:
Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
Ken Kremer     SpaceUpClose.com     31 July 2018

TITUSVILLE, FL –  NASA’s ground breaking ‘Sun-touching’ Parker
Solar Probe spacecraft departed its prelaunch processing facility in Titusville
facility Monday night, July 30 encapsulated inside its humongous and protective
payload fairing, rolling to her Cape Canaveral, Florida launch pad and
targeting blastoff on August 11.
 


Escorted by a convoy of vehicles
and security forces led by rocket builder United Launch Alliance  the 63-foot-tall
(19-meter) stack of the fully fueled Parker Solar Probe and payload
fairing exited the Astrotech Space Operations payload processing facility  processing facility around 830 p.m. Monday
night for a lengthy road trip on Rt 405 in Titusville, Florida that culminated with a
post-midnight arrival at Space Launch Complex-37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force. 



Parker is on an unprecedented
mission to fly
through the sun’s outer atmosphere — the solar corona – skimming within 4 million miles, 8.86 solar radii (6.2
million kilometers)
of the suns
fiercely hot surface where it will encounter brutally hot conditions reaching
into the millions of degrees and extremely intense and deadly radiation.  


Check out our exclusive gallery
of Space UpClose eyewitness rollout photos taken as the probe and vehicle convoy moved
at a snails pace of 4 mph along the roadway at night at a time when there is
less highway traffic.  

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe encapsulated in payload fairing is
on the move as its rolling from Astrotech processing
facility in Titusville on July 30 to
Space Launch
Complex-37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL for hoisting atop United Launch
Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket and launch targeted for Aug. 11, 2018. Credit:
Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
Parker’s sure to be spectacular post midnight launch is
slated for
Aug. 11,
2018 atop the triple barrel United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket, the
most powerful vehicle in the firms fleet,
from
pad 37 on Cape Canaveral.




Liftoff is slated for the opening
of a launch
window
that starts at 3:48 a.m.
EDT (0748 GMT) and lasts for 45
minutes until 4:33 a.m. EDT (0833 GMT).

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe encapsulated in payload fairing is
on the move as its rolling ffrom Astrotech processing
facility in Titusville on July 30 to S
pace Launch
Complex-37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL for hoisting atop United Launch
Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket and launch targeted for Aug. 11, 2018. Credit:
Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
Blastoff of the car sized probe has
been delayed several times to deal with a variety of spacecraft technical and
payload processing issues from its originally planned July 31 liftoff date and
eaten into the 3 week launch period.  

NASA and ULA only had until
August 19 to get the spacecraft off the ground. So its getting close to the end
of the launch period after which it will have to sit on Earth until the next opportunity
for liftoff in May 2019. 



Although the departure time was
not announced ahead of time for security reasons, there was a small crowd of
onlookers on hand at a few locations to wish her well along the way!

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe encapsulated in payload fairing is
on the move as its rolling from Astrotech processing
facility in Titusville on July 30 to
Space Launch
Complex-37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL for hoisting atop United Launch
Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket and launch targeted for Aug. 11, 2018. Credit:
Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
The vehicle stack mounted inside
the white colored fairing consists of the Parker Solar Probe (PSP) integrated
on top of the
third
stage rocket motor, a Star 48BV provided by Northrop Grumman, formerly Orbital
ATK.


The car-sized PSP is 3 meters
tall and has a mass of
1,424-pounds (646-kilograms).

It was developed at a cost of $1.5 Billion.  

Parker Solar Probe sits inside half of its
fairing. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman

As part of the final prelaunch
operations, technicians
lifted and mated PSP onto the Star 48BV rocket motor on July 11.



The
third stage Star 48 BV rocket motor was added as an essential element required
to get enough thrust for PSP to leave the influence of the Earth’s gravity
field and fly within very close proximity of the sun to carry out its mission
to ‘Touch the Sun’. 
The
stack was then encapsulated inside the bisector fairing at Astrotech on July
16, 2018.




Parker Solar Probe was
encapsulated within its fairing on July 16, 2018, in
preparation for its move to Space Launch Complex 37. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins
APL/Ed Whitman
The
triple stick ULA Delta IV Heavy is the worlds largest operational launch
vehicle and United Launch Alliance (ULA) was selected by NASA as the launch provider
several years ago.   
“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,” says NASA.


The two stage United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy launching
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe stands vertical and exposed on July 7, 2018 after
rollback of the Mobile Service Tower (rear) for WDR fueling test at Space
Launch Complex-37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL. Encapsulated Parker
was mounted on top on July 31 after transport to pad on July 30. Liftoff
targeted for Aug. 11, 2018. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com



The
PSP convoy reached pad 37 after midnight Tuesday morning, July 31.



NASA’s Parker Solar Probe encapsulated in payload fairing is
on the move as its rolling from Astrotech processing facility in Titusville on
July 30 to Space Launch Complex-37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL for
hoisting atop United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket and launch targeted for
Aug. 11, 2018. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com


The
next step was to mount the satellite stack on top of the
Delta IV Heavy rocket inside
the
Mobile Service Tower (MST) to carry out the science
mission.



Technicians
then quickly got to work and hoisted the PSP payload stack and integrated it on
top of the already waiting
two-stage
approximately 179 foot tall (55 meter tall)
Delta IV Heavy stack comprising two stages.



The MST stands 330 feet (100 meter) tall and is easily visible from
multiple vantage points in the Florida Space Coast region.


The
two stage Delta IV Heavy stack has already completed
a pair of critical Wet Dress Rehearsal (WDR) exercises conducted by
engineers and technicians on July 2 and July 6 to
ensure that the rocket will be ready for the blastoff now currently targeted
for August 11 – as I reported here earlier.

Check
out our exclusive Space UpClose photos of the two stage Delta IV Heavy stack on
the pad after the WDRs were successfully concluded.




The two stage United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy launching
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe stands vertical and exposed on July 7, 2018 after
rollback of the Mobile Service Tower (rear) for WDR fueling test at Space
Launch Complex-37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL. Encapsulated Parker
was mounted on top on July 31 after transport to pad on July 30. Liftoff
targeted for Aug. 11, 2018. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com



“I’m very happy to say that Solar Probe is in
the fairing and is on top of the Delta IV Heavy as of 12 Noon today,” said
Nicky Fox, Parker Solar Probe’s project scientist at the Johns Hopkins
University Applied Physics Laboratory, which developed the mission for NASA, at
a live media briefing held today at the University of Chicago.



“It was hoisted up this morning.”



“I think it’s fair to say that Parker Solar
Probe is go for the sun.”

The key goals are to try and answer
fundamental questions about the nature of the sun and development an understanding
of how the sun works – such as why is the solar corona so hot. Its much hotter
than the suns surface.



Scientists also want to know why
the solar wind is accelerated to supersonic speeds. 


N
ASA’s Parker Solar
Probe will fly ‘Where no Earth probe has gone before!’





“Throughout its seven-year mission, NASA’s
Parker Solar Probe will swoop through the Sun’s atmosphere 24 times, getting
closer to our star than any spacecraft has gone before.”





“Parker  will be the first mission to fly through the
sun’s outer atmosphere — the solar corona — to examine two fundamental
aspects of solar physics: why the corona is so much hotter than the sun’s
surface, and what accelerates the solar wind that affects Earth and our solar
system. Understanding these fundamental phenomena has been a top-priority
science goal for more than five decades. SPP will orbit the sun 24 times,
closing to within 3.9 million miles of its surface with the help of seven Venus
flybys,” says NASA.



The NASA contract award for the ULA launch
services amounts to $389.1 million for a deal signed with the agency in
2015. 



NASA previously used the Delta IV
Heavy to launch the Orion EFT-1 test flight.



Otherwise the Delta IV Heavy is
utilized to launch the heaviest clandestine payloads for national security
purposes for the USAF and NRO. 



The Parker Solar Probe is named in honor of
astrophysicist Eugene Parker, S. Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor
Emeritus, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago,
who predicted the existence of the solar wind in groundbreaking papers dating back to the 1958s.

“In 1958,
Dr. Gene Parker developed a theory showing how the Sun’s corona is so hot that
it overcomes the Sun’s gravity, forming the solar wind,” says NASA. 



It was previously known as Solar Probe Plus.



This was the first time NASA named a spacecraft
for a living individual.



“This probe will journey to a region humanity
has never explored before,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator
for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This
mission will answer questions scientists have sought to uncover for more than
six decades.”


Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA,
Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK and more space and mission reports direct
from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and
Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.






Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human
spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com
–www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com



………….

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Learn more about the upcoming upcoming/recent
SpaceX Merah Putih & Telstar 19 launches, NASA/ULA
Parker Solar Probe, SpaceX Falcon 9/CRS-15 launch to ISS,  SES-12 comsat
launch, Falcon Heavy, TESS, GOES-S, Bangabandhu-1,
NASA missions, ULA Atlas & Delta launches, SpySats and more at Ken’s
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evenings:

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4-6
: “SpaceX Telstar 19 &
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launch to ISS, SpaceX Falcon Heavy & Falcon 9 launches, SpaceX SES-12
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lander, Curiosity and Opportunity explore Mars, NH at Pluto and more,” Kennedy
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Ken Kremer

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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