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Parker Solar Probe launch success

Parker Solar Probe

NASA's Parker Solar Probe a few days before launch on Aug. 9, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kelly Goonan)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Florida --

Reserve Citizen Airmen assisted with the successful launch of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe in the early hours of Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018.

“We played a role this morning by clearing the Eastern Range to ensure safety during the launch,” said Col. Michael LoForti, 920th Operations Group commander. “We’ll play a larger role as we start launching astronauts from U.S. soil again, hopefully next year.”

The probe will be making a seven-year mission, skimming through the sun’s atmosphere. According to kennedyspacecenter.com, the main mission goals are to understand how energy and heat move through the corona and learn what accelerates the solar wind and energetic particles.

Its flightpath will use the gravitational pull of Venus as a slingshot to propel it at speeds of 430,000 mph towards the sun’s corona. The probe will circle the star and then go back around Venus, gradually getting closer to the sun’s surface.