'Touch the sun' mission: NASA delays launch of Parker Solar Probe

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NASA's car-sized robe was scheduled to launch on a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida during a 65-minute launch window. He's now 91 and eager to see the solar probe soar.

NASA initially aimed to launch the Parker Solar Probe on July 31, but the agency and ULA repeatedly pushed the liftoff back to allow time to resolve issues with the mission's Delta IV Heavy booster. 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's planned mission to explore the sun was delayed Saturday as the rocket failed to take off during the designated launch window.

The mission is expected to shatter a number of records: It will approach seven times closer to the sun than any other manmade object ever has, and it will be Nasa's fastest spacecraft, reaching top speeds of over 400,000 miles per hour (643737 kmh - fast enough, as Nasa's website says, to get from Washington, DC, to Philadelphia in less than one second).

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"Teams worked very hard this evening, diligently getting through the launch process, looking at everything that they had to to get into the terminal count this evening", Mic Woltman, of NASA's Launch Services Program, said during NASA's broadcast of the launch attempt.

NASA says a red pressure alarm for the gaseous helium system went off, prompting the launch controller to order, "Hold, hold, hold".

"The Parker Solar Probe will help us do a much better job of predicting when a disturbance in the solar wind could hit Earth", said Justin Kasper, one of the project scientists and a professor at the University of MI.

The spacecraft's path to the sun runs past Venus.

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Parker's lightweight heat shield is just 4 ½ inches (11 centimeters) thick.

"The sun is full of mysteries", said Nicky Fox, project scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab.

"It was just a matter of sitting out the deniers for four years until the Venus Mariner 2 spacecraft showed that, by golly, there was a solar wind", Parker said earlier this week.

But it can withstand 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,370 degrees Celsius) as well as extreme radiation, thanks to its high-tech carbon. It's the first time NASA has named a spacecraft after someone who's still alive.

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It will get more than seven times closer than the current record holder for a close solar pass, a record set by the Helios 2 spacecraft in 1976.