July 15, 2015
A signal was sent back from the New Horizons space probe indicating that it managed to get through its historic but dangerous fly-by near Pluto.
Data in its first call home since Tuesday’s flyby suggest the spacecraft experienced no upsets as it hurtled past the icy world at 14km/s (31,000mph).
The signal came through a giant dish in Madrid, Spain – part of a Nasa network of communications antennas. The message took four hours 25 minutes to traverse 4.7 billion km of space.
The tension mounted as scientists and engineers at mission headquarters in Laurel, Maryland, waited for telemetry information. So there was joy and relief when the signal was received at 01:52 BST; team members cheered, hugged each other and waved American flags.
“We are in lock with telemetry from the spacecraft,” said mission operations manager Alice Bowman as confirmation was received.
“We have a healthy spacecraft, we have recorded data from the Pluto system, and we are outbound from Pluto.”
A few minutes later, she added: “I can’t express how I feel. It’s just like we planned it!”