Exploring the Solar System

Exploring the Outer Planets

When was New Horizons launched and when will it arrive at Pluto?

New Horizons was launched on January 19, 2006, on an Atlas V-551 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Since Pluto is so far away, and time is of the essence to get there, the mission will not have several gravity assists in a long, winding journey to the Kuiper Belt. Instead, the spacecraft was launched directly into an escape trajectory of thirty-six thousand miles (fifty-eight thousand kilometers) per hour—the highest-speed launch of any space probe—and headed on a beeline for Jupiter. It made a flyby of Jupiter on February 28, 2007, and used the planet in a gravitational slingshot to fly onward toward Pluto. New Horizons is expected to fly by Pluto on July 14, 2015.


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