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Virtual Launch Control Center - New Horizons
 
All times are in EST unless otherwise stated.

The Virtual Launch Control Center was activated on January 19 at 10:30 a.m.

The Virtual Launch Control Center was deactivated at 2:52 p.m.

+ View first launch attempt-January 17, 2006

2:45 p.m. - We have spacecraft separation!!!! The launch team celebrates as confirmation of the separation is received. New Horizons is now on the way to Pluto on its nine year mission.

2:42 p.m. - We have third stage burn out.

2:40 p.m. - The third stage has ignited.

2:33 p.m. - The Centaur engine is performing incredibly well.

2:30 p.m. - Mark Lavigne of the telemetry lab reports that Centaur has gone to dual-range hydrogen pressurization. We have liquid oxygen (LOX) system pre-start. We now have ignition and full thrust on the Centaur. This burn will last for about nine and a half minutes.

2:25 p.m. - 5 minutes remain in this coast phase after which the RL-10 engine will be ignited.

Did You Know?
The payload fairing, which protects the spacecraft during launch, will be jettisoned approximately 3.5 minutes into the flight.

2:18 p.m. - Centaur has begun its roll reversal as expected during this coast phase. All systems are stable at this time.

2:15 p.m. - We're now at T+15 minutes and counting and everything has progressed as planned and we are in a coast phase and will have start of the second stage in about 14 minutes.

2:11 p.m. - There will now be a 19-minute and 45-second coast phase.

2:07 p.m. - Data quality is good and engine operation is nominal. Signals are strong.

2:04 p.m. - We have main engine cut off (MECO) and Centaur is flying at 93 nautical miles in altitude. Range track is good, right down the middle of the corridor.

2:01 p.m. - We are at T+1 minute, 45 seconds. Solid separation looks good. Attitude is good. Vehicle is currently flying at 33 nautical miles in altitude.

2:00 p.m. - At T-18, 15 seconds, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1,.............we have ignition and liftoff of NASA's New Horizons spacecraft on a decade long voyage to visit Pluto...and then beyond.... Official launch time is 2 p.m. EST.

1:59 p.m. - Third stage is go.

1:56 p.m. - We are at T- 4 minutes and counting....4 minutes until launch of the New Horizons spacecraft on its mission to Pluto.

1:53 p.m. - Ed Christianson, Lockheed Martin Launch Conductor, has polled the entire team and we are GO for launch.

1:52 p.m. - The NLM has polled his team and announced that NASA is ready to release the hold at T-4 minutes, which is in a little over 3 minutes and giving us a launch time of 2 p.m.

1:49 p.m. - We are GREEN on all weather fronts and have received a go for launch at 2:00 p.m. at this time. There will be a poll in about a minute by the NASA Launch Manager to make sure that everyone is still on track to come out of the hold and proceed to launch.

1:42 p.m. - An additional 5 minutes has been added onto the hold time, pushing back liftoff to 1:55 p.m. as the earliest we can launch this afternoon.

1:35 p.m. - The hold time has been extended an extra 10 minutes, and the earliest we could launch at this time would be 1:50 p.m.

1:31 p.m. - We are now a "no-go" for the 1:40 p.m. liftoff time due to the cloud ceiling limits. The hold is being extended.

Did You Know?
Pluto and Charon belong to a category of planets known as "ice dwarfs." They have solid surfaces but, unlike the terrestrial planets, a significant portion of their mass is icy material.

1:23 p.m. - Our new launch time is now 1:40 p.m. for the next launch opportunity.

1:22 p.m. - We are standing by for a new launch time. The cloud cover is still too thick at the launch pad.

Did You Know?
As part of an extended mission, New Horizons is also planned to head into the Kuiper Belt to examine one or two of the ancient, icy mini-worlds in the vast region at least a billion miles beyond Neptune's orbit.

1:12 p.m. - A new launch time has been posted for 1:30 p.m., as we wait for the cloud cover to thin from broken to scattered clouds.

1:05 p.m. - A new launch time has been announced for 1:25 p.m. and we have not released the hold at this time.

1:03 p.m. - The Range Coordination has called a "no-go" for launch at the beginning of the window due to the cloud cover at Launch Complex 41.

1:01 p.m. - Launch Conductor Ed Christianson has polled the launch team and all are go for launch, with the exception of weather that is being held off from a "go without exception," based on the cloud ceiling. There is approximately one and a half minutes left in the hold.

12:58 p.m. - All NASA launch team members have been polled and are a "GO." NASA has given the green light to release the hold at T-4 minutes.

12:57 p.m. - Ground observers have noted that the cloud cover is moving more towards favorable conditions for launch. There will be a poll by the NLM to determine the readiness of the team to come out the hold and proceed to launch.

12:53 p.m. - The water deluge system actuation pressure adjustment is being performed. We are now just over T-4 minutes and approaching our last planned 10-minute hold.

12:47 p.m. - At T-10 minutes and counting, Clay Finn is giving an updated weather briefing. We have broken clouds at the 35,000 foot level at the time of liftoff, which may turn to scattered clouds. Temperatures are in the mid 60s and expected to stay there. Winds are from the east and gusting at 12 to 14 knot range. The 40-45,000 foot upper-level winds have remained constant. We are green for all weather issues with the exception of the present cloud ceiling.

12:43 p.m. - We are now at T-15 minutes and counting.

12:38 p.m. - At T-20 minutes and counting, flight control final preparations are now completed.

12:36 p.m. - The fueling of the Atlas V is an automated process. The launch team controls the process, however, an automated computer program actually performs the tanking operations.

12:34 p.m. - Tanking is now complete with all three stages of the Atlas V achieving flight level.

12:33 p.m. - We are at T-25 minutes and counting down to a launch at 1:08 p.m. this afternoon.

Did You Know?
Charon (one of Pluto's three known moons) is so large - about one-half of Pluto's size - that the Pluto Charon system is the only known double planet in the solar system.

12:22 p.m. - The Atlas V rocket has now turned frosty white from the propellant loading. Steam can be seen escaping in small white plumes as the rocket is vented.

12:20 p.m. - We're now at T- 8 minutes and the Atlas LO2 tank is 97.5% full and topping to flight level has begun.

12:16 p.m. - At this time, fill and drain cycle tests are being conducted. The Centaur upper stage LH2 loading is complete. Liquid hydrogen is now slowly being pumped into the Centaur in order to maintain propellant levels in the tank. This is a process known as topping off.

12:10 p.m. - At T-48 minutes and counting, loading of the liquid hydrogen into the Centaur is 60% complete; the Atlas stage is now at 70% capacity.

12:06 p.m. - Florida's Spacecoast weather continues to cooperate and the winds are staying well below safety limits for today's launch.

Did You Know?
In the summer of 2015 when New Horizons is on course for a five-month-long flyby reconnaissance of Pluto-Charon, the "double planet" will be about 3.1 billion miles from Earth.

11:58 a.m. - We are at T-60 minutes and counting. There remains one planned 10-minute hold scheduled at T-4 minutes and counting.

11:56 a.m. - At this time, the Centaur LH2 (liquid hydrogen) tanking has begun. The Atlas LO2 loading is continuing.

11:47 a.m. - We are now at T-1 hour, 10 minutes and counting and the Atlas V's oxygen tank is 30% full.

11:41 a.m. - On the launch pad, the Atlas V rocket is beginning to ice over and turn from a bronze/copper color to white as the supercooled propellants are loaded into the launch vehicle.

11:37 a.m. - At T-1 hour, 20 minutes Centaur LO2 tanking is at 95% and the topping of the tank has started.

11:33 a.m. - Approval for the pumping of 50,000 gallons of liquid oxygen into the first stage of the Atlas V has been given. The Centaur LO2 tank is now at 80% capacity.

Did You Know?
The cameras and spectrometers on New Horizons will start taking data on the Pluto system five months before the spacecraft arrives.

11:22 a.m. - The Centaur LO2 tank is 30% full. The weather continues to look good for the launch.

11:18 a.m. - We are now at T-1 hour, 40 minutes and the Centaur tanking of LO2 is continuing. No issues are being addressed on this bright sunny day at the Cape.

11:16 a.m. - The Launch Program Services team for the New Horizons launch consists of Omar Baez, launch manager, James Wood, NASA senior chief engineer, Mike Stelzer, mission integration manager, Glen Fountain, mission project manager, Bert Garrido, safety and mission assurance manager and Joe Lackovich, NASA advisory manager.

11:15 a.m. - At this time the filling of the Centaur upper stage with liquid oxygen has begun.

11:03 a.m. - The Centaur LO2 (liquid oxygen) storage tank is at the chilldown level and now cooling of the LO2 transfer line will also begin.

Did You Know?
Clyde Tombaugh was the astronomer who discovered the Solar System's ninth planet on March 13, 1930. It was originally named Planet "X" but was changed to Pluto after the Greek god of the underworld. At that time, Tombaugh had never had any formal training in astronomy and only a high school education.

10:59 a.m. - Chilldown of the mobile launcher platform (MLP) is beginning. The rocket is positioned atop the platform. The chilldown will help to acclimate the equipment to the icy cold temperatures that it will experience once the cryogenic propellant begins loading.

10:58 a.m. - We are now at T-2 hours and counting.

10:54 a.m. - The team reports that they are ready.

10:52 a.m. - The range is currently working two issues but neither are constraints for the launch. Lockheed Martin launch conductor, Ed Christianson, is conducting his poll of the team to proceed with cryogenic tanking.

10:51 a.m. - Omar Baez, NASA launch manager (NLM), has completed the readiness to proceed with the cryogenic tanking poll. The team has agreed to begin tanking.

10:39 a.m. - The weather is green at this time and should remain so. If we were to delay until tomorrow there would be a 30% chance of a weather constraint.

10:33 a.m. - Cryogenic tanking will begin at about 11:08 a.m. and take approximately one hour to complete. The pre-test briefing is about to be given to the launch team. At this time there are no technical issues being worked.

10:30 a.m. - As we begin live coverage of this exciting mission, the Atlas V rocket and New Horizons spacecraft stand ready under sunny Florida skies for its historic flight to Pluto and beyond.

The following was in progress before live countdown coverage began:

10:28 a.m. - We're at T-2 hours and holding. This is a planned 30-minute hold. There will be one remaining hold in the countdown at T-4 minutes.

10:24 a.m. The range hold fire checks are now complete. All personnel have been cleared from Launch Complex 41 in readiness for cryogenic tanking. The area warning system lights have been turned to flashing red and the area warning horn has been sounded.

10:18 a.m. - Clay Flinn, launch weather officer, reports that there will be scattered variable clouds at the opening of the window with winds gusting from about 14 to about 20 knots. This is well within the limits of 33 knots for a safe launch. High level winds are expected to decrease as the window approaches and temperatures should remain in the mid 60s.

10:13 a.m. - At T-2 hours and 14 minutes, range holdfire checks are being conducted. These tests are to make sure that the safety officers will have the ability to stop the countdown should there be any last-minute issues.

10:00 a.m. - Flight control countdown preparations have been completed at T-2 hours and 28 minutes.

9:40 a.m. - All personnel are clear of the launch vehicle and mobile launcher platform (MLP) at this time. The GN2 transfer to the ECS can now safely begin.

9:30 a.m. - The Environmental Control System (ECS) GN2 (gaseous nitrogen) chilldown has begun.

9:28 a.m. - We are now in the final three hours of the countdown to launch of this Atlas V - the fastest rocket ever to be launched.

9:21 a.m. - At around 10:20 a.m. we expect to hear a briefing about the upper level winds. Weather conditions at this point are 80% go for launch.

9:00 a.m. - The launch team is gearing up for day 3 for the New Horizons launch. Two programmed built-in holds are scheduled for the countdown. The liftoff window opens at 1:08 p.m. this afternoon and extends to 3:08 p.m.

Virtual Launch Control Center Team
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