New Horizons is the name of the NASA unmanned space mission that did a flyby, within 8,000 miles of the furthest planet in our solar system, Pluto. To put that in perspective , to get to Pluto, New Horizons, after launch from Cape Canaveral in 2006 had to travel 3 billion miles. It took nine years at a speed of 31,000 mph to reach Pluto. It is so far from Earth, that radio signals from the spacecraft take 4.5 hours, traveling at the speed of light [186,000 miles per second] to make the trip home.
New Horizons is an absolutely remarkable human achievement. So much could have gone wrong. Virtually nothing did go wrong. There were perilous moments, but the NASA New Horizons team made it work, almost flawlessly.
Chasing New Horizons, the new book chronicling the mission to Pluto was written by planetary scientist, David Grinspoon. who co-authored the book with New Horizons Mission Director, Alan Stern. Credit Grinspoon with a wonderfully engaging read. I found it hard to put down. Grinspoon’s writing style is breezy, with wonderful insight into the political and technical challenges, and the dedication required to successfully navigate to a place three billion miles distant.
In fact, what this book revealed was that the constant political challenges that jeopardized the mission were far more frustrating than the many technical issues that had to be overcome in going to a daunting place like the planet, Pluto.
Great story. Great read.
This is the planet Pluto, taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, during its flyby in July, 2015