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The spacecraft will take off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, traveling up to 430,000 miles per hour on its journey around the ever-important star. "I think the Parker Solar Probe is a fascinating mission". Watch live in the player above. They can also affect satellites' orbits and lifetimes, causing trouble on Earth when we aren't able to receive the signals we need. That's a scant 4 percent of the 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) between Earth and the sun.

'This is an absolutely seminal moment for the physics of the Sun, ' says Valentin Martinez Pillet, director of the US National Solar Observatory, which is responsible for building the DKIST telescope.

The spacecraft will orbit the sun 24 times - sampling the solar wind and providing close-up observations - while enduring temperatures of 1,377C (2510F). In space terms, that's practically shaking hands. The car-sized spacecraft boasts a 4.5-inch thick thermal shield made of carbon composite materials that will keep the interior at a balmy 85 degrees.

The Space Agency says the probe will travel up to 430,000 miles per hour and have to withstand temperatures near 2,500 degrees.

United Launch Alliance is preparing to launch a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station early Saturday morning.

The spacecraft, the size of a small auto, will travel directly into the Sun's atmosphere and orbit at a distance of about 6.1 million kilometers from the solar surface.

Image: The spacecraft can withstand enormous heat.

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To protect the suite of science instruments created to unlock answers about the solar corona and solar wind, Parker is a compact, but strong spacecraft.

"The coolest, hottest mission, baby, that's what it is", said Nicola Fox, the project scientist at Johns Hopkins University.

Space scientists have spent decades trying to understand how energy moves through the corona and what drives the flow of charged particles that the sun continuously casts off. These explosions create space weather events that can pummel Earth with high energy particles, endangering astronauts, interfering with Global Positioning System and communications satellites and, at their worst, disrupting our power grid.

"All of our data on the corona so far have been remote", said Nicholeen Viall, solar physicist at Goddard. "We're actually making our first pass of the sun in November, getting our first data back by hopefully December", he said. In March, members of the public were invited to be a part in the historic mission by submitting their names to be placed on a memory card that the spacecraft will take into space.

Parker got to inspect the spacecraft last fall.

The solar spacecraft mission exists because of his work in heliophysics, the study of the sun.


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