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Speedy Solar Probe Plus gets green light to proceed

An artist’s rendering of the Solar Probe Plus spacecraft during one of its planned gravity assists at Venus. The spacecraft will reach speeds near 450,000 MPH at perihelion. Image credit: NASA / JHUAPL

An artist’s rendering of the Solar Probe Plus spacecraft during one of its planned gravity assists at Venus. The spacecraft will reach speeds near 450,000 MPH at perihelion. Image credit: NASA / JHUAPL

NASA’s Solar Probe Plus has passed an important design review milestone and can now proceed to assembly and integration in preparation for its scheduled summer 2018 launch date. Currently comprising only a primary structure and propulsion system, the assembly can now move forward with the installation of the remainder of the spacecraft’s systems and science instruments.

Solar Probe Plus is slated to launch atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy during a 20-day window that opens on July 31, 2018. Though heading to study the Sun, the center of the Solar System, the craft will need to make use of several gravity-assist maneuvers with Venus in order to reach its desired orbit.

You can read more in my full write-up at SpaceFlight Insider.

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