It’s been 20 years since Queen guitarist Brian May released his last official solo single Why Don’t We Try Again on his 1998 Another World album. Now the 71-year-old has announced a brand new track called New Horizons, which will be released digitally at 12:02am EST (5:02 am GMT) on New Year’s Day. But even more exciting is the fact that it will have its worldwide premiere from NASA’s control centre headquarters in Maryland, USA. The new single is May’s tribute to NASA’s New Horizons mission, which on January 1, 2019, will achieve the most distant spacecraft flyby in history.
On New Year’s Day, New Horizons is set to encounter a remote Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) called Ultima Thule, which is located beyond Pluto on the edges of our solar system.
May’s fascination with such a feat should come as little surprise since he has a doctorate in astrophysics and is a New Horizons science collaborator.
The track of the same name celebrates the 12-year journey of the New Horizons probe and includes the late Stephen Hawking congratulating the team on its flyby with Pluto in 2015.
In a statement, May said: “This project has energised me in a new way. For me, it’s been an exciting challenge to bring two sides of my life together – Astronomy and Music.”
The Queen guitarist continued: “ 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 NH probe reached this new destination.
“I 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 spacecraft will beam back to Earth.
“To me, it epitomises 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.
“And through the vehicle’s ‘eyes’ we will begin to learn, for the very first time, what a Kuiper Belt Object is made of. And pick up precious clues about how our solar system was born.”
Speaking with Mark Kermode at MK3D in London this month, Malek said: “I think there were such surreal moments when Brian May would be on set and I would be talking to him in character because I did stay in character when I was working on the film. It was surreal for people watching a young version of Freddie Mercury, talking to an older Brian May.”
“And I thought, ‘Well you can’t beat this.’
“And then to have them come and watch the film and I think they were really moved by it emotionally.
“Just to have this relationship now where they like me is…it’s the most profound accomplishment to be able to tell his story and do it some bit of justice in honour, and share it with a new generation is the greatest gift I could ask for.”