Kickstarter Project Promises To Send Backers To The Moon… Sort Of

Could Kickstarter play a major role in kicking off the “personal interplanetary space age?”

You could make a coherent argument that it already has, especially considering the visibility garnered by the recently funded ARKYD space telescope project. However, a lesser known predecessor of the ARKYD is the KickSat, which is marching toward a goal of launching a craft into space that will deploy dozens of “sprites.” Those sprites will disseminate radio signals broadcasting the initials of the backers or other messages programmed by backers. The launch of the KickSat has been delayed a bit but is currently slated for December of this year.

KickSat is a citizen space exploration mission to dispense hundreds of Sprite ChipSat proofof-concept spacecraft into low Earth orbit, assess their on-orbit performance, and characterise their reentry characteristics. In addition, it is an experiment to evaluate the prospect of crowdsourcing funding for space exploration by public sponsorship of individual affordable small spacecraft within a larger overall mission.Source

Now there is another Kickstarter project accepting funding for a different kind of mission: to land small, crowdfunded spacecraft on a planet with an atmosphere (Earth) and one without. Yes, this Kickstarter aims to go to the moon.

For about $300 backers can stake their claim to a personal spacecraft slated for a lunar landing. According to the Kickstarter campaign page, that spacecraft will make it’s way to the moon in the summer of 2016.

We’ve developed a very low cost, open source, open access, mass space exploration system that anyone can use, and we need your help to send your very own Pocket Spacecraft, and thousands of others, on a first of its kind expedition to the moon.

We’re a global team of scientists, engineers and designers that have worked on this concept at some of the world’s leading universities and come together to kick start the personal interplanetary space age and give you the opportunity to become a hands on citizen space explorer. Explorers who back the project can personalise their own spacecraft by adding a picture and customising the message it transmits using just their web browser. More technical explorers can even customise software and hardware.

There are a ton of details on the Kickstarter campaign page for the Pocket Spacecraft. It may be the most in-depth campaign page I’ve ever seen. The details outline how backers can communicate with their craft while it is in space. An accompanying smartphone app will relay data from the craft to your phone and allow you to actually see where your craft is while in space.

NASA has been hit hard by the sequestration and further budget cuts are on the table. Kickstarter may not have the horsepower to raise the kind of funding it takes to put humans on Mars, but these smaller crowdfunded space missions hitchhiking on commercial space activity may help to renew public interest in space exploration and discovery. At the very least it’ll put a pretty cool feather in Kickstarter’s proverbial cap.


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