The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched Parker Solar Probe spacecraft towards space at 3:31 am (Eastern Time) on Sunday in their second try. The spacecraft was supposed to be launched on Saturday during a 65-minute launch window – opened at 3:33 am (1:03 pm India time) – but due to glitches it was interrupted. The launch took place on Saturday morning in the second attempt.
NASA claims that the spacecraft ‘Parker Solar Probe’ will touch the sun. The research organisation further claims that the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft is built with Delta IV Heavy rocket built and is operated by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
#ParkerSolarProbe lifted off from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 3:31 a.m. EDT aboard a @ulalaunch #DeltaIVHeavy! 🚀 Follow along with the mission here and at https://t.co/KOu1HaS2K3 as we explore the Sun like never before. pic.twitter.com/BSAtpb6QVr
— NASA Sun & Space (@NASASun) August 12, 2018
Launch time limitations:
The main limitation on the launch time was to get the spacecraft to its alignment with Venus in November.
It takes more than 50 times additional energy than it takes to reach Mars, explains NASA. This is because the earth is rotating around the sun in its orbit around 67,000 miles per hour. The research organisation further explains that this arrangement has been done for the spacecraft to spiral inward so that it can shed some of that energy. It means launching at high speed in the direction opposite to Earth’s motion.
The spacecraft weighs in about 1,400 pounds and about the size of a car. Also, there is a third stage to give an additional velocity boost.
Another limitation for the launch was making sure that the spacecraft passes as quickly as possible through the Van Allen belt, a region around Earth of intense radiation. The radiation can scramble the spacecraft’s electronics. Those considerations also helped decided when the launch window begins and ends.