Solar Probe Plus to fly on Delta IV Heavy

by | Mar 20, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

NASA has formally announced that it has selected the Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle to launch its US$1.5 billion Solar Probe Plus mission towards the Sun in 2018.   Built by the Johns Hopkins University, the 612kg spacecraft will use a Star 48 perigee kick motor to inject itself on its seven year voyage around the Sun on its mission to study the solar wind.

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket carries NASA’s Orion spacecraft to orbit on its re-entry test. The Delta IV Heavy has no real competition yet. Courtesy: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket carries NASA’s Orion spacecraft to orbit on its re-entry test. The Delta IV Heavy has no real competition yet. Courtesy: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Solar Probe Plus spacecraft will beprotected by disk shapped to carbon composite heat shileld 2.5m in diameter, 0.15m thick to allow the craft to approach Sun within 8-10 solar radii from centre of Sun.

The launch contract, valued by NASA at $389.1 million, while expensive compared to other smaller launch vehicles, still represents  a considerable saving compared to the Delta IV Heavy’s predecessor Titan IV whose price in today’s terms would probably be US$200 million more.

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