Spaceflight

Launch Photos! NASA's Parker Solar Probe Blasts Off to Touch the Sun

Meghan Bartels |
A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA's Parker Solar Probe to the sun from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on Aug. 12, 2018. Original Image
Credit: United Launch Alliance

Destination: Sun

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket with the Parker Solar Probe onboard is seen shortly after the Mobile Service Tower was rolled back, Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Original Image
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA's Parker Solar Probe launched on a mission to touch the sun on Aug. 12, 2018, riding atop a ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. See photos from the dazzling nighttime launch here!

Streaking to the Sun

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA's Parker Solar Probe to the sun from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on Aug. 12, 2018. Original Image
Credit: United Launch Alliance

The Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying NASA's Parker Solar Probe streaks into space in this long-exposure view of the launch from the United Launch Allianace.

Liftoff!

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe lifts off from from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket on Aug. 12, 2018, at 3:31 a.m. EDT (0731 GMT). Original Image
Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA

On Sunday (Aug. 12) at 3:31 a.m. EDT (0731 GMT), the Parker Solar Probe launched on its mission to the sun.

Eugene Parker Watches Parker Solar Probe Launch

Solar scientist Eugene Parker watches as NASA's Parker Solar Probe, named for him, launches into space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on Aug. 12, 2018. The spacecraft will fly through the sun's outer atmosphere, the super-hot corona. Original Image
Credit: NASA/Glenn Benson

Solar scientist Eugene Parker watches as NASA's Parker Solar Probe, named for him, launches into space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on Aug. 12, 2018. The spacecraft will fly through the sun's outer atmosphere, the super-hot corona.

A Dazzling Launch

NASA's Parker Solar Probe launches on its ambitious mission to fly through the sun's corona on Aug. 12, 2018. The spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida atop a ULA Delta IV rocket. Original Image
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The engine plumes from the Delta IV Rocket launching the Parker Solar Probe created a dazzling sight to spectators, as seen in this NASA photo.

Streaking Through

NASA's Parker Solar Probe launches on its ambitious mission to fly through the sun's corona on Aug. 12, 2018. The spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida atop a ULA Delta IV rocket. Original Image
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

This long-exposure view of NASA's Parker Solar Probe launch shows the spacecraft and its Delta IV Heavy rocket streaking through a think cloud layer during the ascent into space.

Reflections

NASA's Parker Solar Probe launches on its ambitious mission to fly through the sun's corona on Aug. 12, 2018. The spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida atop a ULA Delta IV rocket. Original Image
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The spectacular launch of the Parker Solar Probe is reflected in water around its Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch site in this stunning view by NASA photographer Bill Ingalls.

A Tower View

NASA's Parker Solar Probe launches on its ambitious mission to fly through the sun's corona on Aug. 12, 2018. The spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida atop a ULA Delta IV rocket. Original Image
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

This view from NASA photographer Bill Ingalls shows the Parker Solar Probe's launch as viewed from a camera on the Mobile Service Tower that housed the mission's Delta IV Heavy rocket before flight.

Launching to the Sun

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA's Parker Solar Probe to the sun from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on Aug. 12, 2018. Original Image
Credit: United Launch Alliance

NASA's Parker Solar Probe rode a Delta IV Heavy rocket, one of the most powerful rockets in use today, to begin its mission to the sun.

Ascent

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA's Parker Solar Probe to the sun from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on Aug. 12, 2018. Original Image
Credit: United Launch Alliance

The Parker Solar Probe will eventually be the fastest spacecraft in history. In 2024, after a series of flybys around Venus and 24 orbits of the sun, it will be moving at a whopping 430,000 mph (692,000 km/h).

Powering Up for the Sun

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA's Parker Solar Probe to the sun from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on Aug. 12, 2018. Original Image
Credit: United Launch Alliance

A view of the three first-stage boosters of the ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket that launched NASA's Parker Solar Probe.

A Nighttime Launch to the Sun

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA's Parker Solar Probe to the sun from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on Aug. 12, 2018. Original Image
Credit: United Launch Alliance

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA's Parker Solar Probe to the sun from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on Aug. 12, 2018.

Parker Solar Probe Launches Into the Dark

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe lifts off from from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket on Aug. 12, 2018, at 3:31 a.m. EDT (0731 GMT). Original Image
Credit: NASA

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe lifts off from from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket on Aug. 12, 2018, at 3:31 a.m. EDT (0731 GMT).

An Invisible Rocket?

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe lifts off from from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket on Aug. 12, 2018, at 3:31 a.m. EDT (0731 GMT). Original Image
Credit: NASA

The Delta IV rocket launching NASA's Parker Solar Probe into orbit disappears in the fog after lifting off from Florida.

psp-prelaunch

The Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying the Parker Solar Probe waits for its launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Original Image
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying the Parker Solar Probe waits for its launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

24-Hour Delay

The launch of NASA's $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe mission to the sun was delayed 24 hours due to a last-minute glitch with its Delta IV Heavy rocket (shown here) early Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The probe will now launch no earlier than Aug. 12 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Original Image
Credit: NASA TV

The launch of NASA's $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe mission to the sun was delayed 24 hours due to a last-minute glitch with its Delta IV Heavy rocket (shown here) early Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018.

Reflections

The Mobile Service Tower rolled back from the Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying the Parker Solar Probe. Original Image
Credit: United Launch Alliance

The Mobile Service Tower rolled back from the Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying the Parker Solar Probe.

Sunset Rocket

The Mobile Service Tower rolled back from the Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying the Parker Solar Probe. Original Image
Credit: United Launch Alliance

The Mobile Service Tower rolled back from the Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying the Parker Solar Probe.

Parker Solar Probe and the Sun

The Mobile Service Tower rolls back from the Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying the Parker Solar Probe Original Image
Credit: United Launch Alliance

The Mobile Service Tower rolls back from the Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying the Parker Solar Probe

Parker Solar Probe Rolls Out

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying NASA’s Parker Solar Probe rolls out at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Aug. 10, 2018, ahead of a planned Aug. 11 launch. Original Image
Credit: Mike Wall/Space.com

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying NASA’s Parker Solar Probe rolls out at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Aug. 10, 2018, ahead of a planned Aug. 11 launch.

Parker Solar Probe Rolls Out

A view of the Delta IV Heavy from the other side, showing the Parker Solar Probe logo. Original Image
Credit: Mike Wall/Space.com

A view of the Delta IV Heavy from the other side, showing the Parker Solar Probe logo.

Parker Meets Parker

NASA Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen, solar astrophysicist Eugene Parker and United Launch Alliance President Tory Bruno in front of the rocket that will carry the Parker Solar Probe into space. Original Image
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen, solar astrophysicist Eugene Parker and United Launch Alliance President Tory Bruno in front of the rocket that will carry the Parker Solar Probe into space.

Ready to Fly

Credit: NASA

The Parker Solar Probe is packed in its Delta IV Heavy rocket ahead of its mission to the sun.

Leaving Earth for the Sun

NASA's Parker Solar Probe launches on its ambitious mission to fly through the sun's corona on Aug. 12, 2018. The spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida atop a ULA Delta IV rocket. Original Image
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Parker Solar Probe began a 7-year mission with its successful launch on Aug. 12, 2018. It will reach the sun in November 2018 following several flybys of Venus, the first of which is on Oct. 2.

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Author Bio


Meghan Bartels, Space.com Senior Writer

Meghan is a science journalist based in New York City. She joined Space.com in July 2018, with previous writing published in outlets including Newsweek and Audubon. Meghan earned an MA in science journalism from New York University and a BA in classics from Georgetown University, and in her free time she enjoys reading and visiting museums. Follow her on Twitter at @meghanbartels.