The New Horizons spacecraft launched today on its nine-year voyage to Pluto - and you really made this happen.
And that is no exaggeration.
I hope you were able to watch the launch - whether in person or on TV - as the Atlas-Centaur rocket lofted New Horizons to its interplanetary trajectory, and that you felt the same pulse of pride that I did, knowing that without us, this mission might never have gotten off the ground.
Planetary Society members, acting hand-in-glove with the scientific community, saved this mission to Pluto and the Kuiper belt when bureaucratic behemoths in Washington tried to stamp it out, claiming it was of little scientific value and the public didn't care whether or not humanity ever got a glimpse of these icy worlds on the edge of our solar system.
You proved them wrong. Through our Pluto Campaign, you demonstrated - forcefully - that members of the public want to finish the adventure so ambitiously begun: the initial reconnaissance of the solar system. Our robotic explorers have visited every planet but Pluto. If we had let the cancellation of New Horizons stand, it would have been like calling back Lewis and Clark when they'd only gotten as far as Idaho, leaving the trek to the Pacific for distant generations to complete.
I knew our Planetary Society couldn't let that happen. Together we extended humanity's reach into the solar system and once again advanced the mission of our organization: to explore other worlds and seek other life.
Louis D. Friedman
Read the latest New Horizons updates at: http://planetary.org/explore/topics/new_horizons/
Find out about the campaign that saved the Pluto mission at: http://planetary.org/programs/projects/pluto/