As the New Horizons spacecraft hurtles out towards interstellar space, it has now reached an historical milestone. On April 17, 2021, New Horizons passed 50 astronomical units, or 50 times Earth’s distance from the Sun. It is just the 5th spacecraft to reach that distance, joining the Voyagers 1 and 2 and the Pioneers 10 and 11.
“Although four other missions reached this distance back in the 20th Century, none was in perfect health, but New Horizons is,” said New Horizon’s principal investigator Alan Stern, on Twitter. “This is an amazing testament to the skill, care, and attention to detail of those who designed and built New Horizons and those who have been its flight crew now for over 15 years.”
This summer, it will be six years since New Horizons made its flyby of Pluto and its system of Moons in July of 2015.
From the distant Kuiper Belt at the solar system’s frontier, on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2020, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft pointed its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager in the direction of the Voyager 1 spacecraft, whose location is marked with the yellow circle. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Southwest Research Institute.
To celebrate the achievement of reaching this ...