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New Horizons Launch Rescheduled

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Wed Jan 18, 2006 6:31 pm
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Launch of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., has been postponed, pending resolution of a weather-related power outage at the spacecraft mission operations center in Maryland. Mission managers will decide later today whether to proceed toward Thursday’s launch opportunity, which runs from 1:08 p.m. to 3:07 p.m. EST.

Severe storms in the Baltimore-Washington area had knocked out power in several locations, including the campus of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., where the New Horizons spacecraft will be operated in flight. With primary power out the New Horizons mission operations center was on backup power, but New Horizons mission managers wanted to have sufficient backup to those systems in place before conducting critical launch and early flight operations.

The New Horizons launch window extends through Feb. 14.

As the first spacecraft to visit Pluto and its moon Charon, New Horizons looks to unlock one of the solar system’s last, great planetary secrets. After launch aboard an Atlas V, the New Horizons spacecraft will cross the entire span of the solar system and conduct flyby studies of Pluto and its moon, Charon, in 2015. The seven science instruments on the piano-sized probe will shed light on the bodies’ surface properties, geology, interior makeup and atmospheres.

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