Queen guitarist Brian May releases new song dedicated to NASA’s New Horizons mission

Brian May, lead guitarist of legendary rock band Queen, led a countdown to the new year for NASA’s New Horizons team members, families and friends at The Johns Hopkins Physics Applied Laboratory in Maryland.

May was approached by New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern to dedicate a song to the historic mission as it conducted its closest flyby to the most distant object visited by humankind, Ultima Thule. In response, May released his first single in almost 20 years, dedicating it to the mission.

“This is probably going to be hard, because I can’t think of anything that rhymes with Ultima Thule,” May said at a news conference Dec. 31. The name means “beyond the known world.”.

But he found a way: May released his new song, “New Horizons (Ultima Thule Mix)” at 12:02 a.M. EST on NASA TV for the world to hear. The spacecraft flew past the planetesimal at 12:33 a.M., But teams wouldn’t know about the mission’s success until hours later.

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“My song, my track, my anthem became about the human spirit endeavoring to discover the universe,” May said.

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The four-minute video highlights achievements humans have made in exploration.

“Gradually it dawned on me that this mission is about human curiosity,” May said. “It’s about the need of mankind to go out there and explore and discover what makes the universe tick, and this has been going on since the dawn of time.”.

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Aside from putting on a show, May, who is also an astrophysicist, made his own contributions as a participating scientist on the New Horizons project. He’s worked with the team since the small spacecraft hurtled past Pluto in 2015.

“This mission represents more to me than the mission itself,” May said. “It actually represents to me the spirit of adventure and discovery and inquiry, which is inherent in the human spirit.”.