1000 Days From Earth

The New Horizons space probe was launched on January 19, 2006 bound for Pluto, traveling faster than any space craft in history. It passed the orbit of the moon in barely 8 hours (it took Apollo astronauts 3 days to cover that same distance). Today is the 1000th day since that launch. It is only 1/3 of the way there, at about 32 Astronomical Units out, putting it past the orbit of Saturn. An Astronomical Unit is the distance from the Sun to the Earth: 93 million miles. New Horizons will not reach Pluto until July 14, 2015.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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3 Responses to 1000 Days From Earth

  1. Eric says:

    Long trip! Past the moon in 8 hours — must have used a huge rocket (Saturn 5 but smaller payload?).

  2. R.P. Nettelhorst says:

    It was launched by an Atlas V-551. The Atlas V is built by the Lockheed Martin-Boeing joint venture United Launch Alliance. Aerojet develops and manufactures the Atlas V boosters. The rocket, built in Decatur, Alabama, consists of a first stage powered by kerosene and liquid oxygen, which uses a Russian-made RD-180 engine (consider the irony: the original Atlas 1 was an ICBM designed to target Russian cities; the RD-180 was originally built by the Russians to power their ICBMs designed to target American cities), and a liquid hydrogen–liquid oxygen powered Centaur second stage. The configuration that took New Horizons into space also used strap-on booster rockets and a Boeing Star 48B third stage. It was the first Atlas V launch with a third stage.

    The New Horizons space probe is comparable in size and general shape to a grand piano and has been compared to a “piano glued to a sports-car-sized satellite dish.”

    It masses about 1050 pounds.

  3. Don the Baptist says:

    Glad you defined AU; for a second there I thought it was only 32 dog-lengths out.

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