Mission to Pluto

From space.com:

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.

Catch the latest updates!

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 Space.com is updated! Way to go, Fred!]

8 thoughts on “Mission to Pluto”

  1. Sigh. Booted out without posting. Let’s try again.

    That would be “Ring of Charon”.

    Modestly restrains me from mentioning that I beat Space.com’s coverage at least once today. Oops! I guess I just did mention it!

    :)

  2. Gregory Benford’s latest novel (and a sequel to his “Martian Race”) is “Sunborne”. It has some of the characters from “Race” on an expedition to Pluto where they discover life.

    Robert Silverberg’s “Revolt on Alpha C”, the ship has to stop over at Pluto to install hyperdrive engines, which can only be used out of the solar system’s gravity well.

    And since “New Horizons” will go from Pluto/Charon to the Kuiper Belt, one could include “Borderland of Sol” by Larry Niven as well as various other tales that take place out there at the edge of the sytem (e.g., other Varley tales in the “Eight Worlds” sequence).

  3. It’s away! Flawless launch, booster separation, staging. Centaur upper stage put it into parking orbit and is now doing the second burn. Lunar orbit will be crossed about 8 hours from now!

    :D

  4. And now today, January 20th, is the anniversary of the first photograph that led to the discovery of Pluto. (The celebrated date is February 18th – that’s when the Jan. 20 photo was compared with later ones and the planet was first noticed.) SF author Michael A. Burstein points to the story as told by Steven Silver, who met Clyde W. Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto.

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