The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Airbus-built Sun-observing satellite Solar Orbiter is set for launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida on 9 February.

The $1.5bn Solar Orbiter mission has completed all tests and is fitted inside the protective enclosure.

The international collaborative mission between ESA and Nasa will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 411 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41.

The spacecraft will observe the Sun and provide unprecedented details about the solar system and the star itself.

Equipped with ten in-situ and remote sensing instruments, the Solar Orbiter is designed to capture images of the Sun’s North and South poles, as well as measure solar wind plasma, fields, waves and energetic particles escaping the Sun.

After every five months, the spacecraft will make a close approach to the Sun with the closest being 42 million kilometres, inside the orbit of Mercury.

The spacecraft will leverage a gravity assist from Venus and Earth to lift itself out to reach a 24° angle above the Sun’s equator.

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The spacecraft heat shield is coated with SolarBlack, which can withstand temperatures exceeding 500°C.

Airbus Solar Orbiter programme manager Ian Walters said: “After eight years of design and manufacture, the Solar Orbiter is now ready to launch and to study the Sun as never before.

“Everyone in Airbus is excited and just a little apprehensive as we approach the day when the spacecraft starts its journey to the Sun.”

Airbus Defence and Space was awarded the contract to design and build the Solar Orbiter in 2012.