from Lou Friedman


have probably seen the announcement on our web site, or perhaps
have read in the press that the Planetary Society has now become
the lead sponsor for SETI@home, ensuring its continued support.
You may have also read about the new alliance between The Planetary
Society; a new Internet media start-up company, provisionally
named Project Voyager; and SETI@home – the innovative screen-saver
program that allows people all over the world to participate in
the scientific data processing of radio astronomy observations
in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. This is thrilling
news for the Society and its members, but there is more to the

The Planetary Society was the founding sponsor of SETI@home, and
this new venture will enable the Society to provide full support
for the project in coming years. SETI@home has been successful
beyond anyone’s hopes. Neither we at the Society, nor the team
that developed the program at the University of California, Berkeley
had expected such phenomenal success. Remarkably, although it
went on-line just over a year ago, SETI@home now has over two
million users! Supported by our alliance with Project Voyager,
its potential for further growth and development seems unlimited.
That is not all: The alliance will also help the Society develop
a bigger presence on the Internet, and continue its mission of
inspiring the people of Earth to explore other worlds and seek
other life into the 21st century.

are especially proud of our association with Project Voyager because
of its outstanding leaders – Ann Druyan, who was Carl Sagan’s
wife and collaborator, and Joe Firmage, whose success with Internet
companies has made him one of the legends of Silicon Valley. Ms.
Druyan is also a member of The Planetary Society’s Board of Directors,
and as part of the new venture she will shortly be announcing
the re-release of Cosmos, Dr. Sagan’s noted TV series, and a new
set of media products connected with it. Other, similarly exciting
announcements are expected by Project Voyager during the fall,
as it launches its new Internet portal and other media projects.

addition to SETI@home, there is another reason why this new venture
is so important to us. In the 1980s the Society was the fastest
growing membership organization in the world. It was extraordinarily
successful in building a community of people interested in space
exploration and supporting its future and growth. But although
the Society is now the largest and most visible space-interest
group on Earth, it must continue to evolve and adjust to life
in the 21st century. In the new century, communities of interest
groups will be built up in new ways, taking advantage of the information
technologies and information economy. The Planetary Society is
uniquely fitted to take advantage of those new opportunities:
After all, in the 21st century, exploration will largely be carried
out through the use of the new technologies of the information

believe that allying ourselves with a new Internet media venture,
and expanding our presence on the World Wide Web, is the way to
continue to expand the space-interest community in the next decade.
We need this community to support the great ventures proposed
for the coming years, including building outposts on Mars, searching
for an ocean on Europa, exploring asteroids and comets, sending
missions to Pluto and searching for planets around other stars
and for life in the Universe. These are the missions that will
require a great deal of public support if they are ever to get
off the ground. Without a growing and vibrant space constituency,
some of these important projects may never get the support they

our members we also say – don’t worry. We are not giving up one
bit of our commitment to our traditional activities. We will continue
to publish and mail out our wonderful magazine, The Planetary
, and we will continue to conduct live events everywhere
we can. The new media are not replacements for the old ones. They
are meant to add to the Society – and growth is what we seek.

watch our web site for more developments. Right now, this is only
an announcement of plans – in the next few months you will see
a lot more.


Executive Director