A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for NASA’s planned New
Horizons mission to Pluto has been released for a 45-day public
comment period that ends April 11. A press briefing will be held at
10 a.m. EST on March 29 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) News
Center to acquaint the media with the mission to Pluto and its moon,
Charon, and the Draft Environmental Impact Statement associated with
the launch.

The power source for the spacecraft, a radioisotope thermoelectric
generator (RTG), uses heat from the decay of plutonium dioxide to
produce electricity. The DEIS examines potential environmental
impacts under three scenarios: a normal launch, a launch accident
with no radiological release from the RTG, and a launch accident
involving a radiological release.

At 6 p.m. March 29 and 1 p.m. March 30, NASA will host public meetings
at the Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa, where the general public
can comment on the DEIS and learn more about the proposed mission to
Pluto and the steps whereby NASA arrives at a recommendation to the
NASA Administrator to proceed with the launch. After National
Environmental Policy Act reviews, if NASA decides to proceed with the
mission, the spacecraft will await presidential approval to launch on
January 11, 2006.

Participating in the briefing will be:

  • Orlando Figueroa, Deputy Associate Administrator for Programs Science Mission Directorate NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Earl Wahlquist, Associate Director for Space and Defense Power Systems Department of Energy, Germantown, Md.
  • Kurt Lindstrom, New Horizons Program Executive NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Glenn Fountain, New Horizons Project Manager Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
  • Hal Weaver, New Horizons Project Scientist Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.

The New Horizons Draft Environmental Impact Statement is available on
the Web at:




Unbadged news media needing accreditation for the press briefing
should go to:


For further information, contact the KSC News Center at 321/867-2468.