NASA launches first mission to Pluto

A piano-sized spacecraft blasted off Thursday on a 3-billion mile (5-billion-kilometer) journey to study &to=' target=_blank>Pluto, the solar system's last unexplored planet, and examine a mysterious zone of icy objects at the outer edges of the planetary system.

The New Horizons probe lifted off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 2 p.m. (1900 GMT), quickly reaching speeds of 36,000 mph (58,000 kph), nearly 100 times faster than a jetliner.

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