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The cost of the mission (including spacecraft and instrument development, launch vehicle, mission operations, data analysis, and education/public outreach) is approximately 0 million over 15 years (2001–2016).

The spacecraft was built primarily by Southwest Research Institute (Sw RI) and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

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New Horizons is the first mission in NASA's New Frontiers mission category, larger and more expensive than the Discovery missions but smaller than the Flagship Program.When the spacecraft was launched, Pluto was still classified as a planet, later to be reclassified as a dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).Some members of the New Horizons team, including Alan Stern, disagree with the IAU definition and still describe Pluto as the ninth planet.NASA's Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Ed Weiler prompted Stern to lobby for the funding of New Horizons in hopes of the mission appearing in the Planetary Science Decadal Survey; a prioritized "wish list", compiled by the United States National Research Council, that reflects the opinions of the scientific community.After an intense campaign to gain support for New Horizons, the Planetary Science Decadal Survey of 2003–2013 was published in the summer of 2002.Coincidentally the Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station was where the photographic plates were taken for the discovery of Pluto's moon Charon; and the Naval Observatory is itself not far from the Lowell Observatory where Pluto was discovered.New Horizons was originally planned as a voyage to the only unexplored planet in the Solar System.The science instruments are operated at Clyde Tombaugh Science Operations Center (T-SOC) in Boulder, Colorado.Navigation is performed at various contractor facilities, whereas the navigational positional data and related celestial reference frames are provided by the Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station through Headquarters NASA and JPL; Kinet X is the lead on the New Horizons navigation team and is responsible for planning trajectory adjustments as the spacecraft speeds toward the outer Solar System.In August 1992, JPL scientist Robert Staehle called Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh, requesting permission to visit his planet."I told him he was welcome to it," Tombaugh later remembered, "though he's got to go one long, cold trip." The call eventually led to a series of proposed Pluto missions, leading up to New Horizons.

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