The launch of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, on the verge of kicking off a seven-year mission culminating in passages through the sun’s atmosphere, has been delayed to Aug. 6 to resolve a technical snag encountered during encapsulation of the spacecraft inside the nose shroud of its United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket.
Gearing up for a predawn blastoff July 31, launch crews have positioned a Delta 4-Heavy rocket in the starting blocks on a seaside launch complex at Cape Canaveral as engineers inside a tightly-controlled clean room a few miles away put the final touches on a NASA probe that will travel closer to the sun than any mission before.
The United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket, standing 217 feet tall and weighing 900,000 pounds, unleashes 1.8 million pounds of thrust from its main engine and four side-mounted boosters at 8:18 p.m. EDT Saturday (0018 GMT Sunday) to launch the ninth Wideband Global SATCOM satellite for U.S. military and allied communications.
The 330-foot-tall mobile service tower is rolled away from the United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket at Cape Canaveral’s pad 37B in the hours before the scheduled liftoff. The 9-million-pound gantry was retracted the length of a football field in preparation for launch of the Air Force’s WGS 9 communications satellite into Earth orbit.