The Planetary Society was formed in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman. The society was formed to promote space exploration as a human imperative. The society was also involved in SETI, also known as the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, research. The first of the founders of the Planetary Society to die was Carl Sagan. He died in 1996 and Bruce Murray took over as head of the Planetary Society after his death.
Murray was director at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California for most of his career. He was involved in many projects including the Viking lander which was the first lander to survive arrival on Mars beyond the first moments. The Viking lander gave us a much needed realistic understanding of the conditions on Mars. Murray was also director at JPL during the Voyager encounters with Jupiter and Saturn, the probe Galileo on its way to Jupiter and Magellan on its way to Venus.He worked as director at JPL until 1982.However, he remained involved with space science at the California Institute of Technology. He also published multiple scientific papers and was co-author of seven books.
Murray was a tireless advocate for space exploration. He was involved, one way or another, for most of his life. He received multiple awards during his life including the 1997 Carl Sagan Memorial Award, the Telluride Tech Festival Award of Technology and has an asteroid, 4957 Brucemurray, named after him. He eventually retired from space advocacy after he became ill with Alzheimers Disease which claimed his life on August 29, 2013. He will be missed by believers in space exploration everywhere.