A spacecraft designed to study Pluto, the planet in the farthest-flung region of our solar system, has arrived at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre for a series of pre-launch checkouts.

The New Horizons spacecraft will undergo checks at Goddard for the next three months before it is moved to the Kennedy Space Centre for the final launch preparations.

New Horizons is the first mission to Pluto and its moon, Charon. As part of an extended mission, the spacecraft will head deeper into the Kuiper Belt to study the icy mini worlds in that region.

New Horizons is scheduled for launch in January 2006 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard a Lockheed Martin Atlas V launcher. It should begin its five-month-long flyby reconnaissance of Pluto and Charon in summer 2015.


Source: Flight Daily News