The Planetary Society recently successfully raised funds through the crowdfunding site Kickstarter. With an initial goal of $200.000, they managed to raise a crazy amount of money, $1.241.615! With more than 23.000 people contributing to the project. This is an amazing amount of people who contributed to a science project.
Led by Bill Nye -a famous US science popularizer and anchorman-, the LightSail project is planning on sending a second cubesat in space to demonstrate solar energy propulsion. The money raised will be used to support the spacecraft construction, its validation and integration, operations and eventually gathering and analyzing the data collected by the spacecraft.
With the emergence of cubesats and the success of crowdfunding it is very likely that we see a bunch of similar projects poping up on the internet. Here are a few examples of past projects regarding cubesats. Only a few achieved their target funding but the exposure given by the LightSail project may encourage more to take the plunge.
- LightSail: A Revolutionary Solar Sailing Spacecraft (Funded, raised $1.240.000 from 23.000 backers)
- LUNARSAIL: An Open-Source Cubesat & Solar Sail Lunar Orbiter (Funded, raised $16.000 from 260 backers)
CAT: A Thruster for Interplanetary CubeSats (Failed to reach full funding, but raised $68.000 from 1.250 backers).
After the partial failure of the fundrising, the project creator made another call for funds, with a revised budget : CAT: Launch a Water-Propelled Satellite into Deep Space (Funded, raised $97.000 from 1.200 backers).
I couldn't find any other crowdfunding website supporting this kind of bold projects, but maybe it will soon come! (Ulule, DO SOMETHING!!!)