How Kickstarter is helping to promote private space flight

Crowdfunding is incredibly hot. We love the concept of gathering a lot of people together, having them all make small donations and fund important projects. But will this funding model work for something really big? Something such as the private space race? It’s a question asked by a recent PCMag story. And the answer? Quite possibly.

An elevator into space?

The PCMag story reviews the recent efforts of Michael Laine, a former NASA engineer and the founder of LiftPort. Laine went to Kickstarter to help fund his idea for a lunar elevator, transportation to the moon that does not require a rocket. Laine’s initial goal was to earn $8,000. Over the 21 days of the campaign, though, he accumulated more than $110,000 from more than 3,400 backers.

An opening

NASA provided an opportunity for private entrepreneurs to get into the space race after it killed its shuttle program and put a temporary hold on its own space plans. Entrepreneurs are now hitting the market with their own plans to explore the cosmos. And, as the PCMag story says, crowdfunding is increasingly providing the seed money for these efforts.

A new telescope

The PCMag story outlined another crowdfunding success: private company Planetary Resources’ efforts to finance a low-orbit Earth telescope. The company had a goal to raise $1 million from its Kickstarter campaign. Planetary Resources, though, smashed through that goal, raising instead more than $1.5 million. That’s ample evidence that crowdfunding can be a powerful tool for private space exploration.

Posted on: 12.31.13