Queen guitarist Brian May premieres new song for historic NASA flyby

Don't stop him now! The rock star, who also happens to be an astrophysicist, will be on hand at NASA headquarters as his song marks the space milestone.

Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
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Leslie Katz
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NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is set to ring in 2019 by photographing the most distant world ever explored. It's a historic mission, and it's getting a theme song worthy of its status.

Legendary Queen guitarist Brian May, a space enthusiast who holds a doctorate in astrophysics, has written his first solo song in two decades for the flyby of 2014 MU69. The mysterious space rock, which is nicknamed Ultima Thule, orbits the sun 1 billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto in the Kuiper Belt.

Aptly, the tune is called "New Horizons (Ultima Thule mix)" and it can be streamed via Queen's YouTube below:

"This mission is about human curiosity," May said in an Instagram post Monday. "The need of mankind to explore and see what makes the universe tick. My song is an anthem to human endeavor."

May will be on hand at NASA control headquarters in Maryland from New Year's Eve into New Year's Day to witness the much-anticipated flyby and hear his song played in public for the first time. May got his doctorate from Imperial College London, where he wrote his thesis on Zodiacal light, an eerie glow that looks like a hazy pyramid and appears in the western sky after sunset and in the eastern sky before sunrise.

May has collaborated with NASA before and even started an asteroid awareness campaign. A quick scan of his social media accounts shows he loves space just as much as he loves screaming electric guitar.   

New Horizons is scheduled to cap an exciting year in space by coming within 2,200 miles (3,540 kilometers) of Ultima Thule in the early hours of 2019. That's about three times closer than New Horizons came to Pluto when it snapped some epic photos of the planet a few years back. 

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With the New Year's flyby, NASA hopes the spacecraft will deliver vital data on the sort of object that may represent the building blocks of Pluto and other distant icy worlds like it.

"Ultima Thule is incredibly scientifically valuable for understanding the origin of our solar system and its planets," Alan Stern, principal investigator of New Horizons said in statement. "It's ancient and pristine, and not like anything we've seen before."

If you're a space enthusiast, the flyby will likely rock you as much as May's new anthem.

First published Dec. 31, 6:40 p.m. PT. 
Update, 9:02 p.m. PT:  Adds YouTube link to the song. 

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