"New Horizons" Mission to Pluto... Jan 19, 2006 14:55:53 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jan 19, 2006 14:55:53 GMT -6
Successful Launch of the New Horizons Mission
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Jan. 19 (UPI) -- NASA's New Horizons spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 2 p.m. EST Thursday, beginning its 10-year mission to a rendezvous with Pluto in 2015.
"New Horizons spacecraft is on its way to the very edge of our solar system," mission control announced at launch from Florida.
After two days of weather-related delays, the probe was boosted into space aboard an Atlas V rocket. At top speed, the spacecraft will travel 13 miles per second, or nearly 47,000 miles per hour.
The first 13 months of the mission will include spacecraft and instrument checkouts, instrument calibrations and trajectory correction maneuvers, NASA said.
There also will be rehearsals for an encounter with Jupiter in the spring of 2007, during which the giant planet will provide a slingshot-like gravity boost that could save New Horizons up to three years of flight time.
That encounter will be followed by an approximately 8-year interplanetary cruise to its flyby of Pluto and the planet's moon, Charon.
NASA will hold a press conference in about one hour to discuss the successful launch of its New Horizons probe bound for the planet Pluto and beyond.
"The vehicle looks to be right where it needs to be," NASA launch manager Omar Baez, said after the launch. "It was Mother Nature that was holding us back earlier, but we got through it."
Today's launch marked the third attempt by NASA to loft New Horizons toward Pluto.
High wind speeds at the probe's launch pad at Complex 41 of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida forced launch officials to call off a space shot just minutes before liftoff on Tuesday. Nature revealed its ugly side again on Wednesday, when severe storms in Maryland prevented a Florida launch when they knocked out power at New Horizons' mission control center at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory. The laboratory is managing the mission for NASA.
About the size of a grand piano, New Horizons is the first spacecraft ever destined to visit the planet Pluto. The probe should fly past the Moon at about 11:00 p.m. EST (0800 Jan. 20 GMT) before heading toward a Jupiter flyby in early 2007
A countdown timeline here from Space.com: www.space.com/missionlaunches/0601_pluto_newhorizons_archive.html
I'm still amazed at the nine hour trip it will take to pass the moon!