Officials from Universal Space Network, Inc. (USN), a leading provider of space operations and ground control and communications solutions, announced today that the company provided launch critical telemetry, tracking & control (TT&C) support and engineering services to the ground-breaking New Horizons Pluto Mission which launched on January 19, 2006, from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

USN, working through a subcontract with Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), supported pre-launch engineering, test and development activities, as well as the initial ascent and insertion aboard the Lockheed-Martin Atlas V 551 launch vehicle and Boeing STAR-48 third stage. USN continued to provide critical communications services and support to New Horizons after orbit insertion for spacecraft checkout during initial contact.

The New Horizons spacecraft is a compact, piano-sized probe that is part of a $700 million mission to explore the Kuiper Belt, an icy remote region that is home to Pluto and its moon, Charon. Designed and built at Hopkins’ Applied Physics Laboratory, the spacecraft, after traveling nearly 4 billion miles, is expected to arrive in the Pluto system in mid-2015. Once it arrives, the probe will begin reconnaissance tasks that include characterizing the global geology and geomorphology of Pluto and Charon, mapping their surface compositions and temperatures, examining Pluto’s atmospheric composition and structure and studying the small moons recently discovered in Pluto’s system.

Joe Rothenberg, USN President and Chief Customer Service Officer said, “We are extremely proud to play a part in supporting this historic mission to learn more about Pluto and gain further insight into the origins of our solar system.” Rothenberg continued, “By choosing to outsource services like TT&C, NASA and its spacecraft providers like APL will be gaining tremendous cost and risk advantages, while allowing more time to focus on mission science and discovery.”

New Horizons relied on USN’s S- and X-Band telemetry system and its ground station in Dongara, Western Australia.

About Universal Space Network

Universal Space Network, Inc. (USN) is a leader in space operations for telemetry, tracking and control (TT&C) services. Offering responsive, reliable and cost-effective solutions to the global government and commercial space community, USN provides unparalleled coverage through a seamless network of worldwide satellite tracking and communications assets. These assets include both those owned by USN and those of our collaborative partners. The company has offices in Newport Beach, Calif., and Horsham, Pa. For more information, please visit