Brian May shares The Grand Ultima Thule Flyby video

Brian May (Image credit: Karwai Tang/WireImage - Getty)

Brian May has shared a video to mark the NASA New Horizons probe’s close encounter with Ultima Thule.

The Queen guitarist premiered his track named after the spacecraft on January 1 (opens in new tab), the day the probe passed Ultima Thule – an object located a billion miles beyond Pluto – in the Kuiper Belt.

May has now shared what he describes as “perhaps the shortest full-length movie in the world” showing the New Horizons flyby which is accompanied by a portion of his track.

The guitarist says on his website (opens in new tab): “To produce this movie, it took 13 years of space travel, about $700 million, and the expertise of hundreds of NASA engineers, navigators, astrophysicists and rocket scientists.

“The core team of the mission, called New Horizons, is under the direction of a genius called Alan Stern, who has driven the whole project since around 2010, when he began convincing the whole world that Mankind needed to find out what Pluto was like in close-up. 

“The New Horizons mission succeeded in the incredibly difficult task of directing a probe roughly the size and shape of a grand piano three billion miles to an accuracy of a couple of hundred, achieving the first flyby in history of what we all knew in our childhood as the ninth planet, Pluto. 

“I was lucky enough to be adopted as a guest at that time, and made some great friends in the team.”

May adds: “A couple of years and another billion miles later, the NH probe was set to perform a flyby of an object even more remote – a Kuiper Belt Object (KBO). Alan Stern asked me along again for the occasion, and invited me to make music for the mission. The rest is history I guess.

“I’m proud to reveal this very short movie which depicts completely faithfully the whole approach sequence – plus the glimpse the probe captured looking back towards the Sun at the ‘crescent’ view of the KBO after the encounter. OK! The star of our film is a KBO called 2014 MU69, or Ultima Thule. Shall we start courting the Oscar nominations now?”

May will release New Horizons as a 12-inch single on April 13 to mark Record Store Day (opens in new tab).

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent more than 30 years in newspapers and magazines as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. After initially joining our news desk in the summer of 2014, he moved to the e-commerce team full-time in 2020. He maintains Louder’s buyer’s guides, scouts out the best deals for music fans and reviews headphones, speakers, books and more. He's written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog and has previous written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to video games, travel and whisky. Scott grew up listening to rock and prog, cutting his teeth on bands such as Marillion and Magnum before his focus shifted to alternative and post-punk in the late 80s. His favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Ned's Atomic Dustbin and Drab Majesty, but he also still has a deep love of Rush.