Brian May of Queen releases ode to space exploration

“New Horizons (Ultima Thule Mix)” is his first solo track in more than 20 years.

Brian May is best known as the guitar hero of the all-time legends Queen, but he’s also a certified astrophysicist involved with NASA’s mission to Pluto. A few days ago, May bridged both worlds by releasing “New Horizons (Ultima Thule Mix),” his first solo track in more than two decades.

The song was released in celebration of the New Horizons space probe’s flyby past Ultima Thule, the farthest object in the solar system a spacecraft has visited. It inspired May to write about the “indomitable spirit of man to explore the universe around him,” he told NPR.

Besides appropriately spacey synths, slow-burn guitar riffs, and May’s crooning about “new horizons to explore,” the song also features the voice of Stephen Hawking. May chose to sample snippets of a message Hawking sent the NASA team in 2015 when they accomplished the Pluto flyby.

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Considering his achievements in Queen, it may surprise you to learn that May was apparently nervous when he agreed to record the song for NASA. “There’s not a lot of things that rhyme with Ultima Thule,” he told TIME.

Listen to the song here:

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