Mission controller

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Science  26 Jun 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6242, pp. 1414-1419
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6242.1414

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On 14 July, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft will swoop past Pluto, the gatekeeper to a region of thousands of icy bodies known as the Kuiper belt. Alan Stern is the principal investigator for the $700 million mission—the largest and most expensive ever controlled by a non-NASA employee. Equal parts taskmaster, entrepreneur, and showman, Stern has been working for 25 years to get a spacecraft to Pluto—10 years to muster political and scientific will, 5 years to build a spacecraft, and nearly 10 years to make the trip. Like the instrument-studded spacecraft—delivered on time and on budget—Stern is packed with purpose.