A History of Kickstarter in Space
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We love space — its potential, its unfathomable limitlessness, the ways in which it inspires people to think things they've never thought before. Simply put: space makes you dream big. Over the years, we've seen many amazing, space-related Kickstarter projects, huge, small, real, speculative, and everywhere in between. Here are just a few of them.
Lunar Mission One is sending an unmanned mission to the South Pole of the moon — a largely unexplored area — and in the process, bringing along a capsule of digital memories and physical human materials (you can send along a strand of hair, for instance). The project is transforming the way that space exploration happens by removing the need for a huge investment from national space agencies, and putting the power in the hands of individuals instead.
Earlier this year, a group of middle-schoolers designed an experiment to send to space (it was about whether rust occurs on a nail in microgravity). They launched the experiment on July 13th, and rendezvoused with the International Space Station! Read about the launch details here.
Prototype projects are an important part of Kickstarter, and this plasma thruster is a great example. For years, HyperV has been building, operating, and deploying plasma accelerators of many different shapes, sizes, and power levels (they show many of them off in the project video). This project was for the development and demonstration of a prototype plasma jet thruster that could be used for orbital maneuvering and much more. It's about taking existing technology and making it more robust.
The ARKYD is a space telescope that's controllable by anyone. That means that backers could search for asteroids, look at distant galaxies, or examine our own solar system from the ARKYD. And another thing: you can also send a picture of yourself to it, which means space selfies with the Earth as a backdrop, using the ARKYD's camera arm. The project is not yet complete, but you can follow its fascinating story in the updates.
Between this project and its twin brother, hundreds of tiny student art- and science projects from all around the world (all fitting inside ping pong balls!) went to circle the Earth in weather balloons. We have been following these two projects with great interest — here's an amazing picture of one of the balloons mid-bursting.
One of several satellite projects on Kickstarter, the ArduSat is a hackable Arduino satellite designed to open up space exploration to everyone. You can create your own experiment and then send it to space to run; after about a week, the data returns to you. In 2013, it deployed from the International Space Station.
What space roundup would be complete without an imaginative look toward the future? The Intergalactic Travel Bureau Tour is a series of posters about the speculative future of space travel — it's basically a travel agency for space transit. The posters are beautifully designed, with whimsical calls to sight-see on Mars or book your dream vacation on one of Saturn's moons. Because if there's anything this roundup proves, it's that space exploration is all about what we can imagine.