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