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Launch Memories

Posted on August 12, 2021

Seeing Was Believing

Timothy Horbury

Parker Solar Probe Science Team

Imperial College of London

The development schedule of Parker Solar Probe was so challenging, and the mission so difficult, that I really expected the launch to slip. It wasn’t until I saw the spacecraft at a Science Working Group meeting at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory that I realized the team might make it.

I came to the U.S. for the National Science Foundation's Solar Heliospheric and Interplanetary Environment (SHINE) conference in late July 2018, but had to go back home and missed the launch itself. I did have a chance to see Parker Solar Probe leaving the Astrotech spacecraft processing facility in the fairing, in the middle of the night. It was very memorable to see it “driving” down the road.

I do remember at SHINE having coffee conversations with other science team members about what Parker was going to discover, and what we might title our papers. I didn’t expect transverse flows, but I think switchbacks were on the list.

Back home, I did a lot of press, because the media in the U.K. were incredibly excited about Parker Solar Probe. I had a BBC film crew in my house recording a piece for the evening news, which provided entertainment for the friends who were staying over that weekend!

Encased in its fairing, Parker Solar Probe makes its way from the Astrotech processing facility to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center/Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in August 2018.

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