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New Horizons Mission

NASA'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.

Launching a Powerful Rocket

Meet the people behind the scenes of NASA's Expendable Launch Vehicles and learn about the Atlas V rocket that has been chosen for the New Horizons mission.

The Rocket

New Horizons will launch aboard an Atlas V rocket.

The launch vehicle is using a 551 configuration with a 5-meter fairing and five solid rocket boosters. This is the most powerful version of the Atlas rocket family in the U.S. fleet.

The Launch Team

NASA's Launch Services Program gives the 'go' to launch rockets like the Atlas V. Learn more about the NASA team responsible for sending New Horizons into space.

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