In 2006 and before engineers could ship the New Horizons probe to the Cape, the hardware and the science instruments all have to go through the rigorous test program. For this mission keeping on the schedule was critical. It is also important that we get there as soon as possible because of Pluto did not have atmosphere but it is moving further and further away from the sun. At some point, that atmosphere is gonna freeze out.

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Although meeting the target launch date is critical so is making sure that all the hardware works together like a finely tuned machine. One build with spacecraft build the individual boxes and instruments first and they go through their own tests to functionality so the functionality and then environmental tests and that is sort of equivalent to the members of an orchestra each tuning up. But once it gets built as a spacecraft, once it assembled then playing the symphony and that is what they have tested it as a system. Then engineers test it again about five more times. Once it gets launched then the scientist can not go with the screwdriver and cannot fix anything that is not working. The test program is more than year-long a big part of testing that gives the confidence for the scientist that it is going to work in flight.

Now engineers perform environmental testing so they put it into an environment that is pretty much exactly like it is to go on its way to Pluto and at Pluto that includes a thermal vacuum tank where they put it in big tank and pump all the air out like just in space engineers heat it up, then they heat it up and later cool it down just as it is gonna see when it is actually in flight and it is just the extreme cold that engineers test . For the launch itself puts huge stresses on the spacecraft.

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The rockets that we can not think they shake a lot. If you have ever seen a paint shaker at a hardware store mixes the colors into the paint that exactly what the spacecraft to go through during launch. One of the things engineers do is they put the whole spacecraft on a gigantic, vibration table, a paint shaker and shake it and test it after that and shake it again and test it again. The test phase is that APL and Goddard gave been very intense. Engineers running seven days three shift per day operation.

Nothing was easy, even getting to Andrews Air Force Base meant fighting traffic. Leaving home for Cape Canaveral and the final critical months before launch. The engineers in charge were a little nervous. It's like a long trip, everything you need must come along like test equipment, spares, tools.