Countdown restarts as NASA's Parker Solar Probe ready for today's launch

Bill Ingalls  NASA

The problem with a helium pressurization system could not be resolved in the 10 minutes left in the launch window, forcing ULA to order a 24-hour delay. He's now 91 and eager to see the solar probe soar.

NASA on Saturday postponed the launch of a Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft, created to probe the Sun. The agency is now targeting Sunday for the launch of the spacecraft which is created to go all the way to the Sun's atmosphere, or corona - closer to the Sun than any spacecraft in history.

NASA postponed until Sunday the launch of the first ever spacecraft to fly directly toward the Sun on a mission to plunge into our star's sizzling atmosphere and unlock its mysteries.

The probe, the size of a small vehicle, is due to make a seven-year mission to skim through the sun's atmosphere, enduring temperatures of 1,300C.

Saturday's launch countdown was halted with just one-minute, 55 seconds remaining, keeping the Delta IV (four) rocket at Cape Canaveral, Florida, with the Parker Solar Probe.

NASA has delayed the launch of a probe which will make a series of unprecedented orbits of the sun.

The probe is created to plunge into the Sun's mysterious atmosphere, known as the corona, coming within 3.83 million miles (6.16 million kilometres) of its surface during a seven-year mission.

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United States space agency NASA has scrubbed its launch of a new probe, but will make another attempt on Sunday.

The last time a man-made object came close to the star's surface was in 1976 when Helios 2 achieved perihelion, the point of the orbit at which it was closest to the sun, at 27 million miles.

The probe will be controlled from the Mission Operations Centre based at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU APL), which is where NASA handles its unmanned missions.

The Parker Solar Probe, named after American solar astrophysicist Eugene Parker, will, as the United States space agency describes it, "touch the sun" as it flies within 3.9 million miles of the star's surface.

The probe is protected by a 4in-thick shield that constantly repositions itself between the sun's power and the scientific instruments on board. It's the first time NASA has named a spacecraft after someone who's still alive.

It is created to withstand heat of up to 1,000 degrees Celsius, speeds of 700,000 kilometres per hour and a journey that will last seven years.

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