|Volume: 04, Issue: 09||12/28/2005|
New Horizons MissionNASA's New Horizons spacecraft will be the first spacecraft to visit Pluto and its moon Charon. No spacecraft has ever visited the planet, and not even the Hubble Space Telescope can spot details on its rocky, icy surface. Yet with the New Horizons mission, now in development and planning for liftoff January 2006 from Launch Complex 41 at the Kennedy Space Center, NASA looks to unlock one of the solar system's last, great planetary secrets.
After launch aboard an Atlas V, New Horizons would cross the entire span of the solar system -- in record time -- and conduct flyby studies of Pluto and its moon, Charon, in 2015. The seven science instruments on the piano-sized probe would shed light on the bodies' surface properties, geology, interior makeup, and atmospheres.
The launch of Pluto New Horizons is rescheduled for no earlier than Jan. 17, 2006. This will enable an additional inspection of the Atlas launch vehicle. The launch services contractor, Lockheed Martin, experienced problems in September on an updated Atlas propellant tank similar to the one being flown on the Pluto New Horizons mission. We continue our work based on a 35-day launch window.
A mission rehearsal with all of the launch participants was held December 15, 2005 at the Atlas Space Operations Center.
The spacecraft was encapsulated into the Atlas V fairing on December 13, 2005 at the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility. It was installed onto the payload transporter December 16, 2005. New Horizons was moved to Launch Complex 41 on December 17, 2005.
The Integrated Systems Test, an integrated test of the launch vehicle and the spacecraft, occurred December 21, 2005.
For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newhorizons/main/index.html.
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