Queen guitarist Brian May has announced the release of his first solo song in over 20 years. The single, titled “New Horizons”, was just completed and recorded earlier this month and will have its global premiere from the NASA headquarters in Greenbelt, MD on New Year’s Day (Tuesday, January 1, 2019).
May, who completed his his PhD in astrophysics in 2007, is a NASA’s New Horizons science collaborator. The new song is his personal tribute to the New Horizons mission which launched in 2006 and will perform the most distant flypast in history on January 1st when the probe encounters the space object Ultima Thule on the edge of the Solar System.
The multi-talented guitarist will be present at the New Horizons base of operations on New Year’s Day to witness the historic final approach as it happens. He was also present for New Horizon’s triumphant flyby of Pluto in 2015, and delivered the world’s first stereoscopic image of Pluto, from the ground-breaking data that the probe delivered.
“This project has energized me in a new way,” May explained in a statement. “For me, it’s been an exciting challenge to bring two sides of my life together – astronomy and music. It was Alan Stern, the Project Instigator of this amazing NASA mission, who threw down the glove last May. He asked if I could come up with a theme for Ultima Thule which could be played as the probe reached this new destination.”
May added that he was “inspired by the idea that this is the furthest that the hand of man has ever reached. It will be by far the most distant object we have ever seen at close quarters, through the images which the space craft will beam back to earth. To me, it epitomizes the human spirit’s unceasing desire to understand the universe we inhabit. Everyone who has devoted so much energy to this mission since its launch in January 2006 will be feeling they are actually inside that small but intrepid vehicle – only about the size of a grand piano – as it pulls off another spectacular close encounter.”
“New Horizons (Ultima Thule Mix)” is May’s first solo release since the single “Why Don’t We Try Again,” taken from his 1998 album Another World. The new song, co-written with Don Black, celebrates the whole 12-year journey of New Horizons probe, and includes a recording of Stephen Hawking congratulating the team on their successful rendezvous with Pluto. In a broader context the song is also an ode to the spirit of exploration.
“New Horizons” will have its global premiere, broadcast live on January 1 at 12:02 a.m. EST (5:02 a.m. GMT) from the New Horizons Control Center at the moment when the historic Ultima Thule encounter is confirmed.