New Horizons is an interplanetary space probe that was launched as a part of NASA's New Frontiers program. Engineered by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), with a team led by S. Alan Stern,the spacecraft was launched in 2006 with the primary mission to perform a flyby study of the Pluto system in 2015, and a secondary mission to fly by and study one or more other Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) in the decade to follow.It is the fifth artificial object to achieve the escape velocity needed to leave the Solar System.

On January 19, 2006, New Horizons was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station by an Atlas V rocket directly into an Earth-and-solar escape trajectory with a speed of about 16.26 kilometers per second (10.10 mi/s; 58,500 km/h; 36,400 mph). At launch, it was the fastest probe ever launched from Earth, but was beaten by the Parker Solar Probe on 12 August 2018.After a brief encounter with asteroid 132524 APL, New Horizons proceeded to Jupiter, making its closest approach on February 28, 2007, at a distance of 2.3 million kilometers (1.4 million miles). The Jupiter flyby provided a gravity assist that increased New Horizons' speed; the flyby also enabled a general test of New Horizons' scientific capabilities, returning data about the planet's atmosphere, moons, and magnetosphere.

Most of the post-Jupiter voyage was spent in hibernation mode to preserve on-board systems, except for brief annual checkouts. On December 6, 2014, New Horizons was brought back online for the Pluto encounter, and instrument check-out began. On January 15, 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft began its approach phase to Pluto.

On July 14, 2015, at 11:49 UTC, it flew 12,500 km (7,800 mi) above the surface of Pluto, making it the first spacecraft to explore the dwarf planet. On October 25, 2016, at 21:48 UTC, the last of the recorded data from the Pluto flyby was received from New Horizons. Having completed its flyby of Pluto, New Horizons has maneuvered for a flyby of Kuiper belt object (486958) 2014 MU69, expected to take place on January 1, 2019, when it will be 43.4 AU from the Sun. In August 2018, NASA cited results by Alice on New Horizons to confirm the existence of a "hydrogen wall" at the outer edges of the Solar System. This "wall" was first detected in 1992 by the two Voyager spacecraft.

Mission type Flyby (Jupiter · Pluto · 2014 MU69)
Operator NASA
COSPAR ID 2006-001A
SATCAT no. 28928
Mission duration Primary mission: 9.5 years
Elapsed: 12 years, 11 months, 6 days

Spacecraft Properties

Manufacturer APL / SwRI
Launch mass 478 kg (1,054 lb)
Dry mass 401 kg (884 lb)
Payload mass 30.4 kg (67 lb)
Dimensions 2.2 × 2.1 × 2.7 m (7.2 × 6.9 × 8.9 ft)
Power 228 watts

Start of Mission

Launch date January 19, 2006, 19:00 UTC
Rocket Atlas V (551) AV-010
Launch site Cape Canaveral SLC-41
Contractor International Launch Services