A United Launch Alliance Atlas V 411 configuration rocket launched the Solar Orbiter spacecraft on its journey to study the sun for the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA on Feb. 9, 2020 at 11:03 p.m. EST.
The spacecraft will make looping orbits around the sun and use 10 instruments to observe solar physics in unprecedented detail. At closest approach, Solar Orbiter will be about approximately 26 million miles (42 million km) from the sun.
Solar Orbiter is an international cooperative mission between ESA and NASA. ESA’s Engineering & Test Center (ESTEC) in The Netherlands is managing the development effort. Airbus developed the spacecraft. The European Space Operations Center (ESOC) in Germany will operate Solar Orbiter after launch.