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.
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.