Heat Shield Arrives in Florida

Posted on 04/24/2018 14:22:33

The Thermal Protection System — also known as the heat shield — for NASA’s Parker Solar Probe arrived in Titusville, Florida, on April 18, 2018, bringing it one step closer to reuniting with the spacecraft that will be the first to “touch” the Sun.

The Parker Solar Probe spacecraft arrived at Astrotech Space Operations two weeks prior, on April 3, to complete final testing. Though the spacecraft was flown by the Air Force’s 436th Airlift Wing, the Thermal Protection System, or TPS, traveled on a flatbed truck, securely encased in a metal shipping container during its road trip to the Sunshine State. After setting off on a rainy Monday morning from Maryland, it was greeted with Florida’s balmy heat on Wednesday afternoon at Astrotech, where it will eventually be reattached to the spacecraft before launch in late July.

The innovative TPS will be the one barrier shielding the spacecraft and its instruments from the intense heat of the Sun. Made of carbon-carbon composite and stretching approximately eight feet wide, the TPS will withstand temperatures of up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit while keeping the spacecraft and instruments at a comparatively comfortable 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat shield has a plasma-sprayed white surface that will reflect the intense heat energy of the Sun’s corona away from the spacecraft.

-Justyna Surowiec/Johns Hopkins APL



Parker Solar Probe’s heat shield, encased in a shipping container, is covered up for a rainy day of travel from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, to Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, on April 16, 2018.

Parker Solar Probe’s heat shield, encased in a shipping container, is covered up for a rainy day of travel from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, to Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, on April 16, 2018.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ben Wong
High-Res Image

Parker Solar Probe’s heat shield – called the Thermal Protection System – departs from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, on April 16, 2018. The heat shield traveled to Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, on the flatbed of a truck, safely protected from the elements in its metal shipping container.

Parker Solar Probe’s heat shield – called the Thermal Protection System – departs from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, on April 16, 2018. The heat shield traveled to Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, on the flatbed of a truck, safely protected from the elements in its metal shipping container.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ben Wong
High-Res Image

Parker Solar Probe’s heat shield arrives in Florida on April 18, 2018, and is unloaded at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, where it will eventually be reattached to the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft before launch in late July.

Parker Solar Probe’s heat shield arrives in Florida on April 18, 2018, and is unloaded at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, where it will eventually be reattached to the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft before launch in late July.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman
High-Res Image

Parker Solar Probe’s heat shield – encased in its metal shipping container – is reunited with the spacecraft – seen in the background – at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, on April 18, 2018.

Parker Solar Probe’s heat shield – encased in its metal shipping container – is reunited with the spacecraft – seen in the background – at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, on April 18, 2018.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman
High-Res Image


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