New Horizons launches for Pluto
Clouds part as NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft roars into the blue sky after an on-time liftoff on January 19, 2006, at 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time aboard an Atlas V rocket from Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. This was the third launch attempt in as many days after scrubs due to weather concerns. The compact, 1,050-pound piano-sized probe got a boost from a kick-stage solid propellant motor for its journey to Pluto. New Horizons was the fastest spacecraft ever launched, reaching lunar orbit distance in just nine hours and passing Jupiter 13 months later. The New Horizons science payload, developed under direction of Southwest Research Institute, includes imaging infrared and ultraviolet spectrometers, a multi-color camera, a long-range telescopic camera, two particle spectrometers, a space-dust detector and a radio science experiment. The dust counter was designed and built by students at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
New Horizons to flew past Jupiter in early 2007 and used the planet’s gravity as a slingshot toward Pluto. The Jupiter flyby trimmed the trip to Pluto by as many as five years and provided opportunities to test the spacecraft’s instruments and flyby capabilities on the Jupiter system. New Horizons flew by Pluto on July 14, 2015.
Photo credit: NASA/Ken Thornsley
Image #: KSC-06pd0085
Date: January 19, 2006