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United Launch Services Awarded Solar Probe Plus Launch

Solar OrbiterUnited Launch Services, a subsidiary of United Launch Alliance LLC,  will render the launch services for NASA‘s planned Solar Probe Plus satellite, scheduled in two years.

The space agency, which announced the $389.1 million contract award Wednesday, said the 20-day launch period for the SPP will commence on July 31, 2018.

The SPP, currently under construction at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory,  will be mounted aboard a Delta IV Heavy rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

According to ULA, the Delta rocket’s cryogenic engines will be supplemented with Orbital ATK‘s Star-48 solid rocket motor.

“The ULA team is very proud that NASA has selected the Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle for this extraordinary science mission, ” said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president for Atlas and Delta programs.

In August 2014, APL selected Northrop Grumman to supply the navigation system that will help control the probe’s flight path during its voyage to the sun.

NASA’s planned SPP mission will collate data from the near-sun environment using measuring and imaging tools to help scientists understand solar wind and its effect on planet Earth.

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