Hit play on the audio first… it sets the mood 🙂
In 1969, NASA sent the first successful spacecraft to reach Mars. It orbited the planet a short time, recorded data, died. Pfft.
This morning, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft just “called home” to confirm that it successfully passed Pluto after traveling three billion miles in only 9 years. So it only took the human race 46 years from our first successful planetary expedition to reach the edge of the fucking solar system? This is a remarkable feat considering that NASA was only funded by(as of 2014) half of one percent of the federal budget. Also the New Horizons craft, unlike the Mariner 7, has plenty of kick left thanks to a gravitational boost from Jupiter. Which alone is amazing to think about, but what makes all this even more exciting is that New Horizons is expected to successfully make it beyond our entire solar system.
Our best and brightest just pulled off the seemingly-impossible on a shoe-string budget. Technology has gotten so precise that the ship even reached Pluto on the exact estimated arrival date. NASA is filled with fucking rockstars, people!!
Fun fact: Clyde Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto, had a dying wish that his ashes be scattered in space. NASA honored him even further by putting his ashes on the New Horizon. So not only did he make it to space, but he made it to the planet he’d originally founded.