Emily LakdawallaJan 09, 2006

What will happen just after New Horizons' launch

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).