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New Horizons Is on Its Way to the Next Target

Following the successful completion of the fourth and final planned trajectory correction maneuver, New Horizons is now truly on its way to its next target, currently named only 2014 MU69. Of course, seeing as the object was only discovered in June of 2014, only an extremely small part of its orbit has been observed, so additional maneuvers are almost certain to be needed as its position at the time of the encounter will be determined more accurately, but I recall the team saying that they were left with enough fuel on board after the Pluto encounter for a change in velocity of 130 meters per second while these four maneuvers achieved 57 meters per second, so that shouldn’t be a problem.
Of course, one problem may be the funding, as the extended mission hasn’t yet been approved and in fact the formal proposal will only be submitted in early 2016. Now it is rather difficult to believe that such a proposal will be rejected, knowing that humanity won’t get another chance to analyze such an object at close range in the foreseeable future, but that hardly means that the approval is certain. In addition, while New Horizons is a mission with relatively low costs, especially when compared to the returns, granting it additional funds will likely mean abandoning other projects or missions, considering NASA‘s financial situation, in which case I can’t help but wonder what will be sacrificed.


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