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Topics: Pluto, New Horizons, Kuiper belt Pages: 36 (11607 words) Published: November 2, 2014
New Horizons Mission Design
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, 11100 Johns Hopkins Road, Laurel, MD 20723-6099, U.S.A.

The mission design for the New Horizons mission went through more than five years of numerous revisions and updates before its launch on January 19, 2006. For the baseline mission design, the New Horizon spacecraft is expected to fly by Jupiter on February 28, 2007 to gain a needed speed boost and encounter Pluto on July 14, 2015 after a 9.5-year journey from launch, followed by extended mission to Kuiper Belt objects. In order to meet the New Horizons mission design objectives, requirements and goals, various mission design scenarios regarding routes to Pluto and launch opportunities have been investigated. Great efforts have been made to optimize the mission design under various constraints in each of the key aspects, including: launch window, interplanetary trajectory, Jupiter gravity assist flyby, Pluto-Charon encounter with science measurement requirements, and extended mission to the Kuiper Belt and beyond. Favorable encounter geometry, flyby trajectory and arrival time are found for the Pluto-Charon encounter in the baseline design to enable all of the desired science measurements for the mission. The New Horizons mission trajectory was designed as a thrust-free flight from Earth to Pluto. All energy and the associated orbit state required for arriving at Pluto at the desired time and encounter geometry were computed and specified in the launch targets. The New Horizons spacecraft’s flight so far has been extremely smooth, with the needed trajectory error correction ΔV being much less than the amount budgeted for.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Mission Design Requirements
2.1. Mission Scope and Objectives
2.2. Science Requirements
2.3. Program Requirements and Constraints
3. Mission Design Scenarios
3.1. Routes to Pluto
3.2. Launch Opportunities
3.3. New Horizons Approach
4. Baseline Mission Design
4.1. Launch
4.2. Interplanetary Trajectory
4.3. Jupiter Gravity Assist Flyby
4.4. Pluto-Charon Encounter
4.4.1. Science Measurement Requirements
4.4.2. Selection of Pluto Arrival Time
4.4.3. Pluto at Approach
4.4.4. Pluto Flyby Trajectory and Geometry
4.4.5. Encounter Sequence and Event Timeline
4.4.6. DSN Access Profile
4.5. Extended Mission To the Kuiper Belt and Beyond
4.5.1. Plane for KBO Encounter
4.5.2. Departing the Solar System

5. Flight Results
5.1. Launch and Orbit Injection
5.2. Summary of Trajectory Corrections
5.3. Flyby of Asteroid 2002 JF56
5.4. Delta-V Status
6. Conclusion

1. Introduction
The early mission design work for New Horizons mission was started in late 2000, shortly after NASA terminated the “Pluto-Kuiper Express” program due to unmanageable cost increases. A team at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL), that had just successfully completed the NEAR project with an unprecedented asteroid landing, was assembled to put together a feasible mission implementation plan, including the early mission design concept, hoping to save the long-sought mission to Pluto, the only remaining planet (at the time Pluto was still the 9th planet) not yet visited. Urged by the science community, NASA issued an Announcement of Opportunity (AO) in January 2001 to solicit proposals for the so-called “Pluto-Kuiper Belt (PKB) Mission”, the first mission of NASA’s New Frontiers Program. Later, the early mission design concept was evolved and became a part of New Horizons mission proposal, led by Principal Investigator Alan Stern of Southwest Research Institute. The proposal was submitted to NASA and was selected for a three-month concept study (PhaseA). On November 19, 2001, NASA concluded its rigorous evaluations on two final proposals and selected the New Horizons proposal for the PKB mission.


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