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Pluto up close: Spacecraft achieves flyby, then calls home

This July 11, 2015, image provided by NASA shows Pluto from the New Horizons spacecraft. On Tuesday, July 14, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft will come closest to Pluto. New Horizons has traveled 3 billion miles over 9

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft got humanity’s first up-close look at Pluto on Tuesday, sending word of its triumph across 3 billion miles to scientists waiting breathlessly back home.

Confirmation of mission success came 13 hours after the actual flyby and, after a day of both jubilation and tension, allowed the New Horizons team to finally celebrate in full force.

“This is a tremendous moment in human history,” John Grunsfeld, NASA’s science mission chief, said at a news conference.

Principal scientist Alan Stern asked the entire New Horizons team in the audience to stand: “We did it! Take a bow!”

The unprecedented encounter was the last stop on NASA’s grand tour of our solar-system’s planets over the past half-century. The journey began 9

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