Launching satellites and exploring space is an expensive business, which is why historically it has been predominantly led by nations, or groups of nations. However the recent financial crisis for has made getting funding for such projects more difficult and entrepreneurs have turned to other sources â€“ namely you and me!
Crowdfunding within the space sector has taken off over the last couple years with some great successes: ARDUSat, a project which put satellites into space allowing the public to do their own experiments, and CubeSat Ambipolar Thruster (CAT) a new rocket propulsion system powered by the Sun and propelled by water, both raised $100,000; although the project aiming to build a Death Star failed to get funded.
Many of these crowdfunding initiatives offer the investor exclusive gifts or opportunities depending on their level of investment. One of the most successful recent crowdfunding projects was the ARKYD Space Telescope which raised over $1,500,000, and they offered the opportunity to have a selfie with the Earth in the background â€“ and Iâ€™ll admit now that we contributed towards this one and youâ€™ll get to see our space selfie when it happens!
Last week I saw an alternative method of crowdfunding in a newspaper, the headline included the words Sentinel and George Clooney â€“ it was the Sentinel that caught my eye! For anyone who doesnâ€™t know, in 2010 George co-founded the Satellite Sentinel Project which funds an existing constellation satellites to take images over Sudan and the results are monitored for human rights and human security concerns. George continues to raise funds for the project and is currently running an interesting crowdfunding initiative. For a $10 donation you have the opportunity to win an evening with George Clooney; the chance closes at 8.00am on Friday (31st January 2014).
The serious point here is that the public has a great fascination for space, but most people know the closest they will get to it is by climbing the tallest object they can find. But the potential to be part of the space exploration is tantalising and there is funding you can tap into with the right project â€¦ or maybe the right perk.