Parker Solar Probe Prepares to Head Toward Launch Pad

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has cleared the final procedures in the clean room before its move to the launch pad, where it will be integrated onto its launch vehicle, a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy.

A spacecraft sits atop a platform with a large metal fairing dangling nearby, ready to encapsulate it.
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

Download images in HD formats from NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio. 

On July 11, 2018, the spacecraft was lifted and mated to the third stage rocket motor, a Star 48BV from Northrop Grumman. In addition to using the largest operational launch vehicle, 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.

A spacecraft is held above a platform with people in clean suits surrounding.
Parker Solar Probe is lifted and lowered toward the third-stage rocket motor. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman

On July 16, the spacecraft was encapsulated within its 62.7-foot fairing in preparation for the move from Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, to Space Launch Complex 37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where it will be integrated onto the Delta IV Heavy. Parker Solar Probe’s launch is targeted for Aug. 11, 2018.

A spacecraft sits inside half of the fairing that will encase it during its launch to space.
Parker Solar Probe sits inside half of its fairing. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman

By Geoff Brown

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab