Chasing New Horizons


Inside The Epic First Mission To Pluto

The up close, inside story of the greatest space exploration project of our time, New Horizons’ mission to Pluto, as shared with David Grinspoon by mission leader Alan Stern and other key players.

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, just as quickly, 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 to Uranus and Neptune—and nothing quite like it is planned to happen ever 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 that our most historic achievements are in the past, the most distant planetary exploration ever attempted not only succeeded in 2015 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 this amazing mission: of their decades-long commitment and persistence; of the political fights within and outside of NASA; of the sheer human ingenuity it took to design, build, and fly the mission; and of the plans for New Horizons’ next encounter, 1 billion miles past Pluto in 2019. Told from the insider’s perspective of mission leader Dr. Alan Stern and others on New Horizons, Chasing New Horizons is a riveting story of scientific discovery, and of how much we humans can achieve when people focused on a dream work together toward their incredible goal.


“Thrilling… Stern’s hands-on and passionate involvement with the project from its inception enables him to make potentially dull material―seeking committee approvals, battling for funding, and managing relationships with superiors―as interesting as the science, and he provides a valuable perspective on the practical aspects of getting a venture like this off the ground. This is a future classic of popular science, full of twists and turns and unexpected heroes…with a dramatic and profound payoff.”
―Publishers Weekly *STARRED REVIEW*

“Here is the exciting, moment-by-moment account of how a dream becomes a successful mission to another planet. Chasing New Horizons is a cliff-hanger, a page-turner, a spine-tingler, and, ultimately, a reason to stand up and cheer. Readers are ‘Go!’ for Pluto and beyond.”
―DAVA SOBEL, New York Times bestselling author of Galileo’s Daughter and The Glass Universe

“Alan Stern and David Grinspoon take the reader to Pluto on a historic odyssey from its inception to its conclusion.”
―CAPT. JAMES LOVELL, commander, Apollo 13

“To Pluto and beyond! This is a thrilling and very human account of one of the greatest scientific adventures of our generation.”
―BRIAN MAY, astrophysicist and lead guitarist of Queen

“A compelling account of one of the most ambitious space exploration missions ever conducted. A visionary of exploration, Alan Stern takes the reader through his lifetime journey of discovery culminating in the 3 billion mile trip to Pluto.”
―CAPT. MARK KELLY, retired NASA space shuttle commander

“The fascinating story of how human curiosity, ingenuity, and tenacity have revealed to us what a world that is billions of miles away is really like. Space exploration at its best.”
―MARIO LIVIO, astrophysicist, and author of WHY?: What Makes Us Curious and Brilliant Blunders

“Imagine launching a spacecraft that will travel faster than 30,000 miles per hour, for nearly a decade, until it passes the previously unreachable surface of Pluto, capturing some of the most beautiful images ever recorded. This mission is a demonstration of the best side of humanity and Alan Stern is a true superhero!”
―DAVID BLAINE, magician and space enthusiast