We are living in the era of Kickstarter! Crowd funding is taking off for projects around the world and connecting people with ideas. With micro-funding, masses of everyday people, giving small amounts of cash can fund innovations in areas as diverse as the arts, science and engineering. I participated in the Kickstarter for Planetary Resource’s Arkyd telescope, which reached a total of over $1.5M. As I am typing this the BLEduino Kickstarter just ended; $75,000 was raised for the $15,000 goal of creating a mini Arduino with built in Bluetooth 4.0. University of Michigan’s Project to build a prototype plasma thruster for interplanetary CubeSats is 15 days into its funding campaign and has raised 20% of their $200,000 goal.
In exchange for supporting these projects, not only do the donors get to take an active financial hand in advancing a project they care about, there are often physical rewards. Arkyd will be displaying my image in space and taking a photo. I also get a full year membership to the Planetary Society, a T-shirt and a mission patch for $139. For my $90 dollars donated to UofM’s CubeSat initiative, I’m getting thank you note laser etched on a solar cell, team T-shirt, mission patch and pen. BLEduino will be shipping me the very project I backed this November for my $34 contribution.
This emerging online system isn’t just for charity, it’s for making projects come to life.
COSMOS: Speaking of projects coming to life, It was just announced that Neil deGrasse Tyson will be hosting the reboot of Carl Sagan’s classic series Cosmos, on FOX. Enjoy the trailer.
ELON: PJ Media has put together a fun little video recapping SpaceX’s triumphs the last few years, and giving Elon Musk another chance to make the case for Mars.