The sun's gravity will accelerate the spacecraft to record-breaking speeds during such encounters; at its fastest, the Parker Solar Probe will go about 430,000 miles per hour (690,000 km/h), NASA officials said. It will be subjected to brutal heat and radiation like no other man-made structure before.
NASA early Saturday scrubbed its planned launch of humankind's first probe to the sun, planning to try again Sunday morning.
The probe will travel closer to the sun than ever before to study the solar theories Dr. Parker developed in the 1950s.
Even in a region where temperatures can reach more than a million degrees Fahrenheit, the sunlight is expected to heat the shield to just around 2,500 deg F (1,371 deg C).
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The U.S. media said the decision was related to the current state of Turkish-American relations and the Brunson case. Trump met Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan at a July NATO summit, and reportedly cut a deal on prisoner releases.
It is protected by an ultra-powerful heat shield that can endure unprecedented levels of heat, and radiation 500 times that experienced on Earth.
The goal is to understand - and be better able to predict - the behavior of the solar wind that triggers auroral displays on Earth and occasionally wreaks havoc with power grids and satellites.
The problem had to do with the gaseous helium pressure alarm on the spacecraft, officials said early Saturday. There is a 60-percent chance of good weather for a Sunday launch, according to ULA.
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Parker said he was "impressed" by the Parker Solar Probe, calling it "a very complex machine". It will pass within Mercury's orbit and skim through the outer layers of the sun's atmosphere, within 3.8 million miles of the sun's surface, exposing itself to temperatures as extreme as 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Scientists also hope the probe can help them to answer why the corona, the outermost layer of the sun's atmosphere, is 300 times hotter than its surface.
A series of instruments on board the spacecraft will measure the magnetic and electric fields, plasma waves and high energy particles. And so, these are sort of the three fundamental questions we want to address: "the speed of the solar wind, this eruptive phenomena, solar storms, and how is the corona heated?" Now 91, Parker, the first living scientist to have a spacecraft named in his honor, flew to the Florida Space Coast to witness his first rocket launch.
"We'll also be the fastest human-made object ever, travelling around the Sun at speeds of up to 690,000km/h (430,000mph) - NY to Tokyo in under a minute!" she told BBC News.
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More than 1 million names are aboard the spacecraft, submitted last spring by space enthusiasts, as well as photos of Parker, the man, and a copy of his 1958 landmark paper on solar wind.