CAPE CANAVERAL, Fl. (CBS) — A NASA spacecraft is finally on its way to the center of the universe Sunday morning.
The Parker Solar Probe launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 3:31 a.m on its unprecedented mission.
Scientists were originally scheduled to launch a rocket carrying the probe at 3:33 a.m. Saturday at Kennedy Space Center in Florida; however, a technical glitched forced them to delay.
Officials cited the cause for the delay as a problem with a helium pressurization system that could not be fixed within the launch window.
The probe, a project that has cost $1.15 billion, is designed to fly through the outermost part of the sun’s atmosphere.
NASA hopes the probe will successfully travel through the sun’s atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it. It will face brutal heat and radiation conditions before ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star.
The probe is named after Dr. Eugene Parker, of the University of Chicago, who is an American solar astrophysicist.
It’s slated to arrive in about three months.
The probe will make 24 orbits of the sun and will get within 4 million miles of the star with the gravitational assist of seven Venus flybys.
Researchers hope to learn about solar winds and space weather.