The space agency wants the new ship to journey 93 million miles (150 million km) to the sun, marking the first time a human-built machine has ever technically touched a star. It won’t be a one-time mission: the spacecraft will go into an independent orbit of the sun in November of 2018, and will make up to 24 close approaches through June of 2025.
Each orbit will take about 88 days to complete, the same timeframe as Mercury’s orbit of the sun, during which the spacecraft will face extreme temperatures and radiation levels. At its peak speeds, the ship will be moving at 450,000 mph (724,000 k/h), or fast enough to get from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. in one second, TIME’s science editor Jeffrey Kluger reported Tuesday.
The Solar Probe Plus spacecraft will leave Earth at some point between July 31 and Aug. 19 next year. Watch NASA reveal its plans in the footage live from the University of Chicago’s William Eckhardt Research Center Auditorium from 11 a.m. ET above.
- The Fight to Save the Salmon
- Inside the World of Black Bitcoin, Where Crypto Is About Making More Than Just Money
- The 'Great Resignation' Is Finally Getting Companies to Take Burnout Seriously. Is It Enough?
- Suddenly, Everyone on TV Is Very Rich or Very Poor. What Happened?
- Colin Powell Reflects on His Mistakes in Unpublished TIME Interview
- Business Travel's Demise Could Have Far-Reaching Consequences
- If the U.S. Spends Big on Climate, the Rest of the World Might Follow