The first spacecraft ever aimed at the planet Pluto is hours away from launching into space on a nine-year mission to the distant, icy world.

A Lockheed Martin-built Atlas 5 rocket is poised to launch NASA’s Pluto-bound probe New Horizons at 1:24 p.m. EST (1824 GMT) today from Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida. If successful, today’s space shot will begin a more than nine-year trek to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt for the piano-sized spacecraft.

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What better excuse to point out some science fiction stories where Pluto plays a part:

  • “The Skylark Valeron” by E.E. “Doc” Smith (1934)
  • “The Ultimate Weapon” by John W.Campbell (1936)
  • Cosmic Engineers by Clifford D. Simak (1950)
  • The Cometeers by Jack Williamson (1950)
  • Man of Earth by Algis Budrys (1958)
  • Have Spacesuit, Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein (1958)
  • To the Tombaugh Station by Wilson Tucker (1960)
  • The Secret of the Ninth Planet by Donald A. Wollheim (1965)
  • World of Ptaavs by Larry Niven (1966)
  • The Ophiuchi Hotline by John Varley (1977)
  • Icehenge by Kim Stanley Robinson (1984)
  • The Memory of Whiteness by Kim Stanley Robinson (1985)
  • Take Back Plenty by Colin Greenland (1990)
  • The Ring of Charron Charon by Roger McBride Allen (1990)
  • “Gossamer” by Stephen Baxter(1995)

A more comprehensive listing can be found here.

[UPDATED: Thanks to Eagle-Eye Fred at EternalGoldenBraid for pointing out the spelling mistake, a job he is all-too-eager to repeat. :) BTW, check out EGB for even more space news, sometimes even before is updated! Way to go, Fred!]

Filed under: Space

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