New Horizons spacecraft launch

New Horizons spacecraft launch

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Credit: NASA/KSC/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: New Horizons spacecraft launch. Atlas V rocket launching the New Horizons spacecraft on its 9- year journey to Pluto. Photographed on 19 January 2006, at the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, USA. An additional solid propellant motor increased its speed until it became the fastest spacecraft ever launched, travelling at around 16 kilometres a second. It passed the Moon in nine hours, and will reach Jupiter in 13 months, using its gravity to swing past and accelerate towards Pluto. It is expected to reach Pluto in mid-2015 and spend 15 months studying the solar system's most distant planet. Pluto, around 6 billion kilometres from the Sun, has never before been visited by a spacecraft from Earth.

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