Now 91, Professor Parker of the University of Chicago, the first living scientist to have a space probe named in his honour, flew to Cape Canaveral to witness his first rocket launch.
The Delta IV Heavy lit the sky over Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on time at 3:31 a.m., engulfing the launch pad with flames as it slowly took flight.
Earth's average distance to the sun is 93 million miles. To snuggle up to the sun, it will fly past Venus seven times over seven years.
The USD 1.5 billion mission will perform the closest-ever observations of a star when it travels through the Sun's outer atmosphere, called the corona. The shield is capable of withstanding 1,370 degrees Celsius.
A highly advanced heat shield just 4.5 inches (11.43 centimeters) thick was devised to keep the probe from melting.
It took one of the most powerful rockets in the world to get the mission moving - not because the probe is large or heavy, but because of the speed required to cruise through the solar system.
The temperature near the sun's corona can be viewed as an obstacle, according to Geoffrey Brown, a public affair officer with the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University. The mission, which hopes to uncover the Sun's mysteries, will accumulate a gamut of data about its structure and magnetic and electric fields, as well as the energetic particles cruising near and away from Earth's star.
"I have learnt a very important lesson of my professional scientific career from him: to be generous to the ideas of others, as long as they are not obviously wrong, and even if they contradict my own personal views", he said. "We have to understand and characterize this place that we're traveling through".
"Now, Parker Solar Probe is operating normally and on its way to begin a seven-year mission of extreme science", said Driesman.
The tools on board will measure the expanding corona and continually flowing atmosphere known as the solar wind, which solar physicist Eugene Parker first described in 1958. "I'm just waiting for the data now".
"I really have to turn from biting my nails in getting it launched, to thinking about all the interesting things which I don't know yet and which will be made clear, I assume, over the next five or six or seven years", Parker said on NASA TV. "We're in for some learning over the next several years", as he watched live from the base.
The second is how does a solar wind start? That's about enough to run a kitchen blender.
The probe will reach tremendous speeds as it orbits the sun.
Protected by a revolutionary new carbon heat shield, it is due to pass Venus in October before heading towards the sun.
At the same time the solar probe Faraday cup is measuring the properties of the solar wind close to the sun at 8 solar radii, a sister Faraday cup on Voyager (launched in 1977) will probably be measuring plasma in the local interstellar space, totally outside the solar atmosphere, beyond 100 astronomical units, or 20,000 solar radii.