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Fraser
2005-Jun-13, 04:20 PM
SUMMARY: All the planets in our solar system have been visited by a spacecraft, except one... Pluto. The spacecraft that will complete the collection, New Horizons, arrived at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center for pre-flight testing. If all goes well, New Horizons will launch atop a Lockheed Martin Atlas V rocket in January 2006, and reach Pluto and its moon Charon in 2015. The spacecraft will remain at Goddard for the next three months, where technicians will put it through a range of tests to make sure it's ready to ride a rocket.

View full article (http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/new_horizons_testing.html)

What do you think about this story? Post your comments below.

John L
2005-Jun-13, 04:31 PM
YES! I've been fighting to keep this mission funded since it was first conceived of. I've had to regularly write to my Congressman and Senators for years to make sure the funding for this never got cut, which it came perilously close to several times. I just hope they find some good sized targets for this probe to visit after its Pluto/Charon flyby. There are some interesting bodies out there!

antoniseb
2005-Jun-13, 05:51 PM
To some degree this feels like it has been a 'stealth' mission, since it is getting launched so soon to now, but so few people know about it. There has been a trickle of people posting questions about why there's no mission to Pluto, or why don't we launch one, or wondering why it was cancelled.

Thanks to the efforts of people like forum member John L, and others, this mission is happening. This mission should return some cool results. It will be fun seeing its first image of Jupiter as it sails by on its way out of town.

folkhemmet
2005-Jun-13, 06:28 PM
First of all, congrajulations to those like John L. who have fought hard to keep this crucial mission alive. I am excited over the Pluto mission. Every other planet in our solar system except Pluto has been visited up close by a robotic space probe. Like antoniseb, I am looking forward to seeing first the pictures of Jupiter and eventually the pictures of Pluto/Charon.

However, for years this mission has been going through ups and downs, and from what I've heard, its cancellation still hasn't been ruled out. What is the status of the environmental impact statement? Also, supposedly the launch will have to receive a presidential okay, how likely do people on the forum think it is that Mr. Bush will give the go ahead?

antoniseb
2005-Jun-13, 06:59 PM
Originally posted by folkhemmet1@Jun 13 2005, 06:28 PM
how likely do people on the forum think it is that Mr. Bush will give the go ahead?
This is kind of a political question, which we'd like to avoid in this forum if possible.

TuTone
2005-Jun-13, 09:35 PM
I think we should be able to discuss political issues, because its part of life on Earth. I hate when people start crying over spilt milk on religion & politics. I'm not saying bash other peoples views, but be open to what they have to say & respect it. We need to discuss these issues to come to conclusions & ideas.
People that are sensitive to that kind of stuff need to calm the **** down & relax....and use my motto: F**k it! Be open minded human.

Peace on Earth!

lswinford
2005-Jun-13, 09:49 PM
When I read the part about the big speakers being used to simulate the launch vibrations, I just had to picture Michael J. Fox's character Marty McFly in front of an enormous speaker on the first Back to the Future movie (which then blew him across the room when he struck a note on his electric guitar).

I sure hope that oil on the camera lense, of a recent comet probe, doesn't get repeated.

Wouldn't it be a hoot if a decade from now we test some new propulsion system, and better mission instrument package, and it beats this probe to Pluto?

aeolus
2005-Jun-14, 04:22 AM
Originally posted by antoniseb@Jun 13 2005, 06:59 PM
This is kind of a political question, which we'd like to avoid in this forum if possible.
I don't see a problem with the question; I'd also like to know if any of you guys know further details in regards to whether or not this mission can still be halted in favour of putting funding towards other missions. Is this possible? If so, what's the likelihood?

lswinford
2005-Jun-15, 08:37 PM
aeolus, at this stage of the game it is a moving target. Government planners tend not to stop moving targets, merely those or those parts that have not yet begun to make any serious motion.

This is not a political statement, just an observation of one who has worked for a government contractor and watched how government works.

In case of a severe budget crunch or serious policy turn-around (say something calamitous or nearing the end of a political term), then this might be suspended or slowed, but not likely stopped. As a friend of mine used to say (he worked at a military aircraft manufacturer), 'when the prototype is in pieces or merely drawings, any project can be flushed down the toilet, but once you've got the body and guts almost assembled, the project crashes and burns only if the final plane does it on a test flight.' Since we've got a probe in tests right now, what will likely scrub its mission is if all of the delivery systems became unavailable. We probably have more to worry about a hurricane destroying the fabrication facility or an environmental group suing to suspend launches because of some endangered species or toxic chemicals ('purple-throated snail finch likes to nest in Atlas and Titan rocket launch pads' vs. 'waste water from the facility has the wrong ph factor to be released').

So if the mission is endangered, it is not likely politics, but procedures and practicalities, real or imaginary. Oh, and once the money allocation was made, they only like revisiting such if it is truly big--aircraft carriers and major dams big--or has multiple parts from which some can be trimmed ('instead of four squadrons of the new plane, lets figure two or three' or 'instead of doing a road through twelve cities, lets figure nine or ten'). These things aren't carved in stone, but if you watched the expressions on beaurocrats faces when you talk of changes, you'd think that they thought it was carved in stone.