NASA is about to launch the fastest spacecraft in history

The spacecraft will use seven Venus flybys over nearly seven years to gradually shrink its orbit around the sun. Pic John Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab

Rocket maker United Launch Alliance said it would attempt the launch again today, provided the helium-pressure issue can be resolved quickly.

The launch is now planned for Sunday, Aug. 12 at 3:31a.m EDT from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Sending a spacecraft closer to the sun than ever before, it will embark on a almost seven-year venture, becoming the first spacecraft to have a direct encounter with a star.

Nestled atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy - one of the world's most powerful rockets - with a third stage added, Parker Solar Probe will blast off toward the Sun with a whopping 55 times more energy than is required to reach Mars.

Parker Solar Probe will make its journey all the way to the Sun's atmosphere, or corona - closer to the Sun than any spacecraft in history.

"Where we see huge magnetic fields that are passing by us, as coronal mass ejections make their way out into the solar system".

But these solar outbursts are poorly understood.

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It will travel about 4 million miles from the sun's surface, seven times closer than any spacecraft before it.

The heat shield is built to withstand radiation equivalent up to about 500 times the Sun's radiation here on Earth.

The probe is equipped with a 4 1/2-inch thick carbon-carbon heat shield created to withstand temperatures of about 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

On each close approach to the sun, the probe will sample the solar wind, study the sun's corona, and provide close-up observations from around the star. That's about 95 percent of the way to the surface from Earth and is within the outer atmosphere known as the corona.

Parker, now 91, recalled that at first some people did not believe in his theory. It was then scrubbed by NASA and the teams will attempt a launch on Sunday morning.

"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.

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