Our Founders

Founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman, The Planetary Society has inspired the people of Earth to explore other worlds, understand our own, and seek life elsewhere for over 40 years.

Our three founders formed The Planetary Society to demonstrate—simply by its existence—that the public strongly supported planetary exploration and the search for extraterrestrial life and to wave that fact in the faces of politicians and policy makers around the world. We succeeded immediately in that, becoming the fastest-growing membership organization of the 1980s.

Founders of The Planetary Society (1989, outside 65 N. Catalina Ave.)
Founders of The Planetary Society (1989, outside 65 N. Catalina Ave.) Planetary Society founders Bruce Murray, Carl Sagan, and Louis Friedman.Image: The Planetary Society

But it quickly became clear that we were going to have to do more than just exist. To achieve our goals of keeping spacecraft exploring, seeing humans walk on other worlds, and searching for signs of life in the galaxy, to our goal of political advocacy, we added sponsoring research projects, publishing a magazine and a website, holding events to celebrate exploration, and preparing for the future by educating the next generation of space explorers.

Thanks to the strong foundation established by our founders, we continue to be the pre-eminent outreach and advocacy organization for space exploration.

The pursuit of the vision of our founders requires an active and engaged membership. Please consider joining The Planetary Society today to help ensure the future of space exploration.

Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan was Earth's leading advocate for the greatest adventure in human history: missions of discovery to worlds beyond our own.

Bruce Murray

Bruce Murray was a co-founder of The Planetary Society and the former chair of our board of directors.

Louis D. Friedman

Louis Friedman is a Planetary Society co-founder and executive director emeritus.