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March 24, 2005
Press Briefing To Be Held March 29 for Pluto New Horizons Environmental Impact Statement

A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for NASA's planned New Horizons mission to Pluto has been released for a 45-day public comment period that ends April 11. A press briefing will be held at 10 a.m. EST on March 29 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) News Center to acquaint the media with the mission to Pluto and its moon, Charon, and the Draft Environmental Impact Statement associated with the launch.

The power source for the spacecraft, a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG), uses heat from the decay of plutonium dioxide to produce electricity. The DEIS examines potential environmental impacts under three scenarios: a normal launch, a launch accident with no radiological release from the RTG, and a launch accident involving a radiological release.

At 6 p.m. March 29 and 1 p.m. March 30, NASA will host public meetings at the Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa, where the general public can comment on the DEIS and learn more about the proposed mission to Pluto and the steps whereby NASA arrives at a recommendation to the NASA Administrator to proceed with the launch. After National Environmental Policy Act reviews, if NASA decides to proceed with the mission, the spacecraft will await presidential approval to launch on January 11, 2006.

Participating in the briefing will be:

  • Orlando Figueroa, Deputy Associate Administrator for Programs
    Science Mission Directorate
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Earl Wahlquist, Associate Director for Space and Defense Power Systems
    Department of Energy, Germantown, Md.
  • Kurt Lindstrom, New Horizons Program Executive
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Glenn Fountain, New Horizons Project Manager
    Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
  • Hal Weaver, New Horizons Project Scientist
    Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.

The New Horizons Draft Environmental Impact Statement is available on the Web at:


Unbadged news media needing accreditation for the press briefing should go to:


For further information, contact the KSC News Center at 321/867-2468.


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Michael Braukus
NASA Headquarters
(Phone: 202/358-1979)

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center
(Phone: 321/861-7643)

Mike Buckley
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
(Phone: 240/228-7536)

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