The Planetary SocietyADDPMP053
The Planetary Society is an American internationally active, non-governmental, nonprofit foundation. It is involved in research, public outreach, and political advocacy for engineering projects related to astronomy, planetary science, and space exploration. It was founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman, and has about 60,000 members from more than 100 countries around the world.
The Society is dedicated to the exploration of the Solar System, the search for near-Earth objects, and the search for extraterrestrial life. The society’s mission is stated as: “To empower the world’s citizens to advance space science and exploration”. The Planetary Society is also a strong advocate for space funding and missions of exploration within NASA. They lobby Congress and engage their membership in the United States to write and call their representatives in support of NASA funding.
In addition to public outreach, The Planetary Society also sponsors projects that will “seed” further exploration. Two of the highest profile programs are Lightsail and LIFE (Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment). Lightsail is a series of three solar sail experiments. LightSail-1 is expected to piggyback on a future NASA mission. In June 2005, the Society launched the Cosmos 1 craft to test the feasibility of solar sailing, but the rocket failed shortly after liftoff.
LIFE was a two-part program designed to test the ability of microorganisms to survive in space. The first phase flew on STS-134, shuttle Endeavor’s final flight in 2011. The second phase rode on Russia’s Fobos-Grunt mission, which attempted to go to Mars’ moon Phobos and back but failed to escape earth orbit.