TAMPA : NASA blasted off a $1.5 billion spacecraft toward the Sun today on a historic mission to protect the Earth by unveiling the mysteries of dangerous solar storms.
“Three, two, one and liftoff!” said a NASA commentator as the Parker Solar Probe soared skyward aboard a Delta IV-Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 3:31am (0731 GMT).
On Saturday, a last-minute technical problem forced NASA to postpone the launch by 24 hours.
The probe is designed to plunge into the Sun’s mysterious atmosphere, known as the corona, coming within 3.83 million miles (6.16 million kilometers) of its surface during a seven-year mission.
It is protected by an ultra-powerful heat shield that can endure unprecedented levels of heat, and radiation 500 times that experienced on Earth.
The car-sized probe is designed to give scientists a better understanding of solar wind and geomagnetic storms that risk wreaking chaos on Earth by knocking out the power grid.
Saturday’s scrub was caused by a helium gas sensor that surpassed a launch limit on the Delta IV-Heavy rocket, United Launch Alliance said.
The weather forecast was expected to be about 60 per cent favorable for launch, according to ULA.