|Atlas 5 launches New Horizons, the first mission to Pluto
1/19/06 ~ 2:00pm
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NEWLY REDONE FOR THE ARRIVAL: **New Horizons spacecraft in cleanroom** Rocket rollout & sunset
The Atlas 5 rocket, flying for the first time in its most powerful configuration, a 551 with five solid rocket boosters and the large, bulbous
five-meter diameter payload fairing, lifts off on January 19, 2006, with NASA's New Horizons spacecraft. New Horizons became the first spacecraft in
history to visit Pluto on July 14, 2015, giving us the first view of the only one of the "classic nine" planets not yet explored. The three-stage
Atlas sent New Horizons on the fastest departure from Earth for any spacecraft in history, but it took an incredible 9.5 years for it to reach
Astronomy Picture of the Day (2006)! Astronomy Picture of the Day (2015)!