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Last Updated: Tuesday January 17 2006 18:08 GMT

Space mission to Pluto is delayed

NASA scientists with New Horizons

The launch of the first ever space mission to Pluto has been delayed because of unsuitable conditions.

Nasa's New Horizons was due to blast off at 6.24pm on Tuesday but gusts of wind and final engineering checks meant that launch slot was put back 24 hours.

Once the probe takes off it will take over nine years to reach Pluto despite being in the fastest craft ever built.

Once at the mysterious planet it will take pictures of its icy surface and atmosphere and beam them back to earth.

Mission Facts
Planet Pluto and moon Charon 1
The mission will cost $700m
A jet liner would take 1,000 years to do the same journey
An 87-year-old retired teacher from Surrey gave Pluto its name
Some scientists say Pluto is more of a giant comet than an actual planet
Pluto is made of rock and ice

Pluto is the furthest planet from earth at 3 billion miles away. The spacecraft will move at a speed of 10 miles per second to get there by 2015.

New Horizons - which cost $700m (£396m) - won't actually land on Pluto, but will pass close by to examine the planet and check out its three moons.

It's an unmanned mission, but Nasa has put an American flag inside the craft and a CD containing the names of around half a million people who signed up to their website.