New Horizons launched seven years ago
- on Jan. 19, 2006 – on what we think
is the most audacious space exploration
mission of all time!

The PI’s Perspective: The Seven-Year Itch

by Alan Stern for New Horizons News
Boulder CO (SPX) Jan 21, 2013

t’s been seven years since New Horizons’ launch on Jan. 19, 2006, and our spacecraft remains healthy and on course. We’re more than halfway between the orbits of Uranus and Neptune. In fact, we’re so far along the journey that we’ll cross the orbit of Neptune and enter “Pluto space” in August of next year!

After seven years in flight – longer than many science missions operate – it’s fair to say the project team can feel that the Pluto encounter is almost around the corner. After all, 2015 is just the year after next! There’s an increased pace of activity, a sense of anticipation, and a palpable thirst for the images and other data we’ll soon have as our reward for hard work on a project with roots going back to 1989. I call this new phenomenon our “seven-year itch.” And it’s a good itch!

Anniversaries and anticipations aside, let me turn to project news.

This month’s spacecraft wakeup – we were in hibernation from July 6, 2012, until Jan. 6 – is proceeding, with various maintenance and checkout activities, spacecraft tracking work, and a new software load (to squash a pesky bug) all going well. We’ll keep the spacecraft active until Jan. 30, then we’ll put her back into hibernation until May 21, when we wake up for a very busy summer of checkouts and encounter rehearsal activities.

Read more: The PI's Perspective: The Seven-Year Itch — Space Daily.

Home           Top of page