CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is swinging by Venus on its unprecedented journey to the sun.

Launched in August, the spacecraft gets a gravity assist Wednesday as it passes within 1,500 miles of Venus. The flyby is the first of seven that will draw Parker ever closer to the sun.

The Sun (NASA)

LEARN MORE: Parker Solar Probe

By the end of October, Parker will shatter the current record for close solar encounters, set by a NASA spacecraft in 1976 from 27 million miles out. Parker will get within 15 million miles of the sun’s surface in November. Twenty-four such orbits — dipping into the sun’s upper atmosphere, or corona — are planned over the next seven years. The gap will eventually shrink to 3.8 million miles.

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