The Planetary Society is a large, publicly supported, not-for-profit organization that has many research projects related to astronomy. It is based in Pasadena, California (the same city as NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory) but has an international membership. It was founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman. The Society is dedicated to the exploration of Mars and the rest of the Solar System, the search for Near Earth Objects, and the search for extraterrestrial life. Its mission is "To inspire the people of Earth through education, research, and public participation to explore other worlds and seek other life."
The Society launched the Cosmos 1 craft in June 2005 to test the feasibility of Solar sailing, but the satellite's launch rocket failed shortly after liftoff. It is now raising seed funding for the next solar sail spacecraft.