On July 14, 2015, something amazing happened. More than 3 billion miles from Earth, a small NASA spacecraft called New Horizons screamed past Pluto at more than 32,000 miles per hour, focusing its instruments on the long mysterious icy worlds of the Pluto system, and then continued on its journey out into the beyond.
Nothing like this has occurred in a generation-a raw exploration of new worlds unparalleled since NASA's Voyager missions-and nothing like it is planned to happen again. The photos that New Horizons sent back to Earth graced the front pages of newspapers on all 7 continents, and NASA's website for the mission received more than 2 billion hits in the days surrounding the flyby. At a time when so many think our most historic achievements are in the past, the most distant planetary exploration ever attempted not only succeeded but made history and captured the world's imagination.
How did this happen? Chasing New Horizons is the story of the men and women behind the mission: of their decades-long commitment; of the political fights within and outside of NASA; of the sheer human ingenuity it took to design, build, and fly the mission. Told from the insider's perspective of Dr. Alan Stern, Chasing New Horizons is a riveting story of scientific discovery, and of how far humanity can go when we work together toward an incredible goal.
DR. ALAN STERN is principal investigator of the New Horizons mission, leading NASA's exploration of the Pluto system and the Kuiper Belt. A planetary scientist, space-program executive, aerospace consultant, and author, he has participated in over two dozen scientific space missions and has been involved at the highest levels in several aspects of American space exploration. Dr. Stern is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2016 Carl Sagan Memorial Award of the American Astronautical Society, and has twice been named to the Time 100. He lives in Colorado. DR. DAVID GRINSPOON is an astrobiologist, award-winning science communicator, and prize-winning author. In 2013 he was appointed the inaugural chair of astrobiology at the Library of Congress. He is a frequent advisor to NASA on space-exploration strategy, and is on the science teams for several interplanetary spacecraft missions. Grinspoon's previous books include Earth in Human Hands (2016) and his writing has appeared inThe New York Times, Slate, Scientific American, Los Angeles Times, and others. He lives in Washington, DC.