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Atlas 5 Launch Of Pluto Mission New Horizions Delayed Five Days

In the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, workers in clean room suits have completed securing the New Horizons spacecraft with the third stage, or upper booster, to the Boeing STAR 48B solid-propellant kick motor. Image credit: NASA/KSC.

Cape Canaveral FL (SPX) Dec 18, 2005
NASA has delayed the launch of its mission to Pluto and the Kuipers beyond until January 17 to enable additional inspections of the Lockheed Martin built EELV class Atlas 5 rocket.

According to Florida Today's Flame Trench NASA continues to push ahead with the launch campaign moving the spacecraft from its payload facility to the launch complex at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The mission must launch before February 14 otherwise wait until 2007 before the next Jupiter window opens.

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 the Atlas 5, New Horizons will cross the entire span of the solar system -- in record time -- and conduct flyby studies of Pluto and its moon, Charon, in 2015. Ahead of possible further encounters with other Kuiper objects beyond in the domain of the 'outerplanets'.

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Mysterious Deep-Space Object Raises Questions On Origin Of Solar System
Paris (AFP) Dec 13, 2005
Astronomers working in Canada, France and the United States said Tuesday they had found a small deep-space object, nicknamed Buffy, that challenges mainstream theories about the evolution of the Solar System.

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