Encyclopedia Astronautica
New Horizons



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New Horizons
American outer planets probe. One launch, 2006.01.19. New Horizons was the first spacecraft targeted on Pluto, the last unvisited body of the nine original planets known at the beginning of the space age. Pluto Flyby.

It was equipped with seven science instruments designed to measure the surface properties, geology, interior makeup and atmospheres of Pluto, its moon Charon, and other Kuiper-Belt planetoids. Following launch in 2006, the robot explorer would swing by Jupiter in February 2007 to achieve a gravity boost, but still only reach Pluto-Charon in July 2015. The spacecraft would then continue on into infinity, being operated from 2016-2020 as it was to fly by other Kuiper Belt objects.

The science payload consisted of:

  • Ralph: Visible and infrared imager/spectrometer; provided color, composition and thermal maps.
  • Alice: Ultraviolet imaging spectrometer; analyzed composition and structure of Pluto's atmosphere and looked for atmospheres around Charon and Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs).
  • REX: (Radio Science EXperiment) Measured atmospheric composition and temperature; passive radiometer.
  • LORRI: (Long Range Reconnaissance Imager) telescopic camera; obtained encounter data at long distances, mapped Pluto's farside and provided high resolution geologic data.
  • SWAP: (Solar Wind Around Pluto) Solar wind and plasma spectrometer; measured atmospheric "escape rate" and observed Pluto's interaction with solar wind.
  • PEPSSI: (Pluto Energetic Particle Spectrometer Science Investigation) Energetic particle spectrometer; measured the composition and density of plasma (ions) escaping from Pluto's atmosphere.
  • SDC: (Student Dust Counter) Built and operated by students; measured the space dust peppering New Horizons during its voyage across the solar system.
The spacecraft would study Jupiter and its moons its swingby of the planet that would take it 2.27 million kilometers above Jupiter's clouds. Thereafter it would be put in hibernation mode during the eight-year coast to Pluto, being only fully awakened once a year by ground controllers for 50-day health checks. 16 thrusters, the largest of only 4.4 Newton thrust, spin and despin the spacecraft and make modest mid-course corrections to make sure the spacecraft would be within 150 km of the desired aim point after its 5 billion kilometer journey to Pluto. New Horizons would begin daily operations four weeks before encounter with Pluto. The period of intense science observations would begin only 12 hours before encounter. The spacecraft would whiz within 10,000 km of Pluto at a speed of 14 km/s. The cameras should be able to resolve boulders as small as 25 m across on the surface.

New Horizons was the first mission in what NASA called its New Frontiers Program, planetary missions managed by the principal investigators, taking lessons from the low success rate of the previous Discovery Program mission. Total cost for New Horizons over the entire 15 year mission, was $700 million, including spacecraft and instrument development, launch vehicle, mission operations, data analysis, and education/public outreach.

Characteristics

Development Cost $: 700.000 million. Electric System: 0.20 average kW.

Gross mass: 478 kg (1,053 lb).
Unfuelled mass: 401 kg (884 lb).
Payload: 77 kg (169 lb).
Height: 2.10 m (6.80 ft).
Diameter: 0.70 m (2.29 ft).
Span: 2.70 m (8.80 ft).
Thrust: 4.40 N (0.90 lbf).
First Launch: 2006.01.19.
Number: 1 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Atlas V The Atlas V launch vehicle system was a completely new design that succeeded the earlier Atlas series. Atlas V vehicles were based on the 3.8-m (12.5-ft) diameter Common Core Booster (CCB) powered by a single Russian RD-180 engine. These could be clustered together, and complemented by a Centaur upper stage, and up to five solid rocket boosters, to achieve a wide range of performance. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Atlas V American orbital launch vehicle. The Atlas V launch vehicle system was a completely new design that succeeded the earlier Atlas series. Atlas V vehicles were based on the 3.8-m (12.5-ft) diameter Common Core Booster (CCB) powered by a single Russian RD-180 engine. These could be clustered together, and complemented by a Centaur upper stage, and up to five solid rocket boosters, to achieve a wide range of performance. More...
  • Atlas V 551 American orbital launch vehicle. Atlas V with 5-m diameter payload fairing, single engine Centaur upper stage, and five strap-on solid boosters. Payloads: 20,520 kg (45,238 lb) to sun synchronous orbit; 8,700 kg (19,180 lb) to geosynchronous transfer orbit. More...

Associated Propellants
  • Hydrazine Hydrazine (N2H4) found early use as a fuel, but it was quickly replaced by UDMH. It is still used as a monopropellant for satellite station-keeping motors. Hydrazine (N2H4) found early use as a fuel, but it was quickly replaced by UDMH. It is still used as a monopropellant for satellite station-keeping motors. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, New Horizons Fact Sheet, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Spacecraft Power for New Horizons, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, New Horizons Technical Summary, Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC41 Titan, Atlas V launch complex. Complexes 40 and 41 were constructed as part of the Integrate-Transfer-Launch (ITL) Titan launch facility at the north end of Cape Canaveral in the early 1960s. Over the next three decades, the complexes supported a wide variety of military space missions involving Titan IIIC, Titan 34D and Titan IV. Complex 41 was deactivated at the end of 1977, then upgraded for the Titan IV program in the 1986-88 period. In October 1999, Complex 41 was demolished with high explosives in order for a new pad for launch of the Atlas 5 rocket to be erected. By then it had been the starting point for 27 Titan flights. More...

New Horizons Chronology


2006 January 19 - . 19:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC41. Launch Pad: SLC41. LV Family: Atlas V. Launch Vehicle: Atlas V 551. LV Configuration: Atlas V 551 AV-010 / Star-48.
  • New Horizons - . Mass: 478 kg (1,053 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA; JPL. Manufacturer: APL. Class: Outer planets. Type: Outer planets probe. Spacecraft: New Horizons. USAF Sat Cat: 28928 . COSPAR: 2006-001A. Last robotic mission to an unexplored planet in our solar system. New Horizons was due to receive a gravity boost from Jupiter in February 2007, then fly by Pluto in 2015. During launch toward Jupiter it reached a higher velocity than any manmade object, and was the first to be boosted directly to solar escape velocity. The trajectory had a perihelion of 0.98 AU, an inclination of 0.87 deg and an eccentricity of 1.03. After the Jupiter encounter it was to have a perihelion of 2.2 AU, an inclination of 2.3 deg and an eccentricity of 1.40. At encounter with Pluto on July 14, 2015, the spacecraft would be 1.1 AU above the ecliptic plane and 32.9 AU from the Sun, leaving the solar system toward the star Xi Sgr.

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