(IAAC) OT : Pluto Mission - FUNDED
If you haven't all heard, a mission to Pluto has been appropriated funds. The US House and Senate conference committee have approved $30 million funding for development of the Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission. The language also says that the "funds provided should be used to initiate appropriate spacecraft and science instrument development as well as launch vehicle procurement," and that NASA proceed with selection of a team to develop the mission. So sooner or later we'll find out whether the mission to Pluto will be POSSE, or New Horizons. I'll keep you all informed.
When I first started campaigning for a mission to the outer solar system's only unexplored planet; I was met with resistance. I had people tell me to my face, "It's a good idea and all, but I don't think it will go anywhere, the Internet is a big place, it will be hard for people to find you." Thanks to great publicity and word of mouth referrals, I had reason to scoff at the people that originally felt that way. I have all of you to thank for passing a link on to friends, and all of you who gave suggestions to publications to do articles on the campaign. In the course of over a year I went from a regular old high school student to gaining international press coverage, and having my picture published in a few magazines. Quite a success in my mind even if Pluto wasn't saved. Especially for an amateur astronomer from a small little town near Harrisburg, PA where I can see Three Mile Island when I walk out my door. I glow in the dark seriously, I could quite possibly be the RTG for the Pluto Mission.
That silliness aside I really however was overwhelmed with all of the people who supported what I was doing. Each and every person that signed the petition at PlutoMission.Com can thank themselves when this mission launches. Your mere support for such a mission helped people in the nations capitol realize the publics interest in a mission to Pluto. Additionally, everyone who responded to my calls to write to their representatives and senators helped put added pressure on congress to appropriate funds for a mission to a very enchanting place. I've been humbled by all those who have offered to help, and to all those who have thanked me. Simply put when I started things, I carried a life long fascination about Pluto, and I'm fascinated by it more than ever as I write this e-mail. When word came of cancellation I knew I wanted to do something, and what I came up with is what you see today, a place for people to post what they feel.
Of course the grassroots support for a mission can't just be credited to my website, my friends at the Planetary Society have helped support a mission to Pluto from the beginning, and called on their members to as well. Their members responded, and both of our efforts combined to make one powerful push for a mission to Pluto.
This isn't the end of the road for me, and PlutoMission.Com, stay tuned, much more will happen in the coming months. The appropriation of funds for a Pluto Mission are a great step forward for Space Advocacy and Awareness. Through this all several people including myself have helped convey the wonders of space and Pluto to thousands of people, igniting a fire that will burn for a lifetime. People originally dreamed of men orbiting the Earth, now we're dreaming about going to Mars with humans, and exploring the fringes of the Solar System with robotic spacecraft. These visions are what have helped inspire a serious interest among the public in space, and have helped to keep the excitement of exploration alive.
If anyone has any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me, my box is always open to those who saved Pluto.
Pluto, Charon, and the Kuiper Belt await!!!
Ted A. Nichols II
Campaign Founder/Manager - PlutoMission.Com