Over the weekend, New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern posted a new "P.I. Perspective" on the official website, and it contained some interesting facts about what's planned for the days immediately following New Horizons' launch. They'll have a long journey of 9 years at least to Pluto, but they'll be doing a lot of work to shake down the spacecraft very early after launch, when two-way communication times are very short. Here's Alan's list:
- Day 1: First contact, command to flight mode, configure thermal control, Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs) on, "burp" and prime the propulsion lines.
- Day 2: Thermal management and guidance system checkouts.
- Days 3-8: Navigation system and sensor checks, guidance system checks, tracking to refine spacecraft trajectory.
- Day 9: First trajectory correction.
- Day 11: Second trajectory correction (if needed).
- Days 12-19: Additional guidance and navigation system checks, spacecraft trajectory refinement.
- Day 20: LORRI and PEPSSI instruments, communications and power checks.
- Day 21: Third trajectory correction (if needed).