(Washington, DC) – U.S. House Committee on Science Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) released the following statement regarding today’s launch of the New Horizons spacecraft bound for Pluto:

“With the launch of the New Horizons spacecraft bound for Pluto, our nation is entering an exciting new phase in space exploration.  New Horizons is the first mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program of medium-class planetary missions, and it will be the first spacecraft to visit Pluto and its moon, Charon.  This mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt and beyond will generate new knowledge about our solar system and its origins, while also serving as a powerful demonstration of U.S. leadership in space exploration.

“I’m particularly proud of the role Colorado is playing in the mission, from Southwest Research Institute, which designed the mission, to Ball Aerospace, which has an instrument on board that will map Pluto’s surface, to students at the University Colorado, who built one of the instruments on the spacecraft that will monitor the density of dust grains, which are of high interest to researchers because they are the building blocks of the solar system’s planets.  This program demonstrates how Colorado is home to one of the most innovative and robust space industries in the country and is a leader in America’s space program. 

“Those of us in Congress who care about space exploration faced many hurdles in getting the Pluto mission off the ground.  With the hard work and determination of my colleagues, we were able to secure the funding and see the program through to launch.  I look forward to the images of this mysterious world and to learning more about our solar system.”