With NASA/JPL’s Pluto Fast Flyby mission cancelled, a new mission is proposed by several scientists and engineers, including veterans of the Voyager program, to send a small spacecraft to Pluto. Originally named Pluto Express, and later Pluto-Kuiper Express, the unmanned spacecraft would be armed with a handful of scientific instruments (as opposed to Pluto Fast Flyby’s camera-only proposal). Plans call for launch via a Delta Heavy rocket or from the cargo bay of a Space Shuttle in 2004, a Jupiter gravity assist flyby in 2006, and a Pluto flyby in 2012. Though there are early talks with the Russian space program about including landers or penetrators, that element of the mission is dropped soon afterward.
All aboard the Pluto-Kuiper Express
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