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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.