Brian May may be one of the greatest rock guitarists alive, but the Queen co-founder also has a doctorate in astrophysics. Now, he is combining his two loves — music and astronomy — by releasing a brand-new song about a history-making NASA spacecraft.
New Horizons, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's spacecraft, will be making the most distant flyby of a cosmic object ever on New Year's Day, January 1, when it zooms past the Kuiper Belt's Ultima Thule, which is located a billion miles beyond Pluto, according to Phys.org.
To celebrate the magical moment, one of the scientists working on the project, Alan Stern, asked the "We Will Rock You" songwriter to create a special tune to be played as the flyby takes place.
May happily obliged, penning the track — which he simply titled "New Horizons" — with English songwriter Don Black and recording it earlier in December. It is his first entirely solo single since 1998's "Why Don't We Try Again" from his Another World album.
"This project has energized me in a new way," the 71-year-old musician said in a statement posted on his official website.
"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 epitomizes the human spirit's unceasing desire to understand the Universe we inhabit."
The instrumental song — which is heavy on the guitars, of course — will feature the voice of late scientist Stephen Hawking over part of the music. May has posted two snippets of the new tune on his Instagram page to the excitement of his fans. Check out one of the clips below.The world premiere of "New Horizons" will occur at the NASA control center in Maryland at 12:02 a.m. ET on January 1. May will be present to debut his song and witness the historic event firsthand. The song will be available for digital purchase that same day.
Meanwhile, May and his iconic band Queen are seeing a bit of a resurgence due to the popularity of the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. Primarily about the group's legendary late frontman Freddie Mercury (brilliantly portrayed by Mr. Robot's Rami Malek), the film about the rise of the British quartet has become the highest-grossing biographical movie about a musician of all-time and has been nominated for numerous awards, including two Golden Globes.
In 2019, May and original Queen drummer Roger Taylor will team up with American Idol Season 8 runner-up Adam Lambert for the fifth time for the North American Rhapsody Tour. The jaunt begins on July 10 in Vancouver, Canada, and is scheduled to run until August 23 in Charlotte, North Carolina.