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Mounted atop Atlas 5
After reaching Lockheed Martin's Vertical Integration Facility following the early morning drive across the Cape, a crane lifts the New Horizons spacecraft into the 30-story building for mounting atop the awaiting Atlas 5 vehicle.
Leaving the hangar
The New Horizons spacecraft, mounted atop a special transporter, departs Kennedy Space Center's Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility after spending three months in the building undergoing testing, final closeouts, filling of its hydrazine fuel, mating with the third stage kick motor and spin-balance checks. The probe was driven to the Atlas 5 rocket's assembly building at Complex 41 for mating with the launcher.
Nose cone encapsulation
The New Horizons is packed away for its launch to Pluto as workers slide the two-piece Atlas 5 rocket nose cone around the spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility. The Swiss-made shroud protects the spacecraft during ascent through Earth's atmosphere.
Science of New Horizons
The first robotic space mission to visit the distant planet Pluto and frozen objects in the Kuiper Belt is explained by the project's managers and scientists in this NASA news conference from the agency's Washington headquarters on Dec. 19.
The Pluto New Horizons spacecraft, destined to become the first robotic probe to visit Pluto and its moon Charon, arrives at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in advance of its January blastoff.
The Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 rocket blasts off at 2:00 p.m. EST from Cape Canaveral's Complex 41. New Horizons is heading to Pluto and beyond on the first mission of exploration to the outer frontier of our solar system.
These photos were taken by Pat Corkery of Lockheed Martin.
Additional coverage for subscribers: VIDEO:
THE ATLAS 5 LAUNCH EXPERIENCE SMALL | MEDIUM | LARGE VIDEO:
LAUNCH PAD BASE CAMERA PLAY VIDEO:
FACING THE FLAME TRENCH PLAY VIDEO:
CLOSE-UP OF BOOSTERS AT IGNITION PLAY VIDEO:
CAMERA ON ATLAS 5 ASSEMBLY HANGAR PLAY VIDEO:
ROOF OF SPACE SHUTTLE VEHICLE ASSEMBLY BUILDING PLAY VIDEO:
TRACKER MONITORS ENGINES DURING FLIGHT PLAY VIDEO:
THE UCS 15 GROUND TRACKING CAMERA PLAY VIDEO:
PLAYALINDA BEACH TRACKER FOLLOWS ROCKET PLAY VIDEO:
TRACKER SHOWS THE VEHICLE'S ROLL PROGRAM PLAY VIDEO:
VIEW FROM SHUTTLE COUNTDOWN CLOCK PLAY
LIFTOFF OF NEW HORIZONS! SHORT | LONGER VIDEO:
LAUNCH AS SEEN FROM THE PRESS SITE PLAY VIDEO:
ALL FIVE SOLID ROCKET BOOSTERS JETTISON PLAY VIDEO:
THE THIRD STAGE BURN PLAY VIDEO:
NEW HORIZONS IS DEPLOYED FROM THIRD STAGE PLAY VIDEO:
POST-FLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH NASA LAUNCH MANAGER PLAY VIDEO:
WATCH POST-LAUNCH NEWS BRIEFING DIAL-UP | BROADBAND
NARRATED FOOTAGE OF ATLAS 5'S LAUNCH CAMPAIGN PLAY VIDEO:
NARRATED FOOTAGE OF NEW HORIZON'S CAMPAIGN PLAY VIDEO:
TUESDAY'S LAUNCH ATTEMPT IS SCRUBBED PLAY SUBSCRIBE NOW