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Join the first crowdsourced mission to explore a destination of your choice in the far reaches of space. @GoBluePlasma

Campaign Updates

As Seen In

Links: The Verge, NewScientist, The Michigan Daily, TEDxUofM, HOBOCTN@mail.ru, Tasnim News, rt(Z), Product Design & Development, White House OSTP, University of Michigan Zell Lurie Institute, Christian Science Monitor, SpaceRef, NASA Watch

Siri, how do I get to Mars?

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The Big Idea: Inexpensive CubeSat Propulsion

Our vision is to enable extremely low-cost access to deep space. We are developing the CubeSat Ambipolar Thruster (CAT), a new rocket propulsion system powered by the Sun and propelled by water, which will push small spacecraft like CubeSats around and far beyond the Earth. New propulsion technologies can cost billions of dollars and take a decade to build and launch. CAT will be one of least expensive and most rapidly developed deep-space-capable systems ever built.

Stretch Goals: Why They Matter

Reaching stretch goals brings us years closer to sustainable, safe and affordable space travel. The CAT engine also has important applications with the potential to improve life here on Earth (see 'Practical Application' below) 

Why CAT Matters: The Future of Space Exploration 

Space exploration has traditionally been expensive, many spacecraft launched today are the size of a truck and can cost over $1 billion dollars. CAT will be tested on a CubeSat, a small satellite the size of a loaf of bread. CubeSats cost 1,000 to 10,000 times less to develop and launch than conventional satellites. As scientific and commercial space technologies get exponentially smaller, it becomes easier (and less expensive) to place small but powerful sensors on a CubeSat platform. The CAT engine can propel this miniaturized equipment to exciting new locations previously unreachable at such a low price.

Practical Application: From Better Weather Prediction To Asteroid Rendezvous

Flight-demonstrated CAT engine technology will enable a wide variety of exciting scientific and commercial opportunities. By contributing to the CAT campaign, you can help future spacecraft make amazing discoveries about extraterrestrial bodies and further our understanding of the near-Earth environment, the Solar System, and beyond.  Who knows, maybe we’ll even be able to find life on those beckoning watery moons of Jupiter or Saturn! Future low-cost missions (and perhaps Kickstarter campaigns) we envision with CAT technology:

  • High-Tech Meteorology and Mapping: Camera and sensor-equipped satellites that look at the Earth provide a powerful tool for analyzing weather patterns. Low cost arrays of such satellites could provide up-to-the-minute highly accurate and localized data on temperature and cloud cover. 
  • Search for Life: Simple diagnostic equipment could be flown on a CubeSat through the water plumes that are ejected into space from Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, or put into orbit around Europa, a moon of Jupiter that is thought to contain more water than all of Earth’s oceans and may contain life. 
  • Inexpensive Global Communication: Ejected from a single rocket launch vehicle, a fleet of CubeSats with CAT engines could be quickly deployed into globe-covering orbits around the Earth for cheap global internet access, more current satellite photos, better global weather observations, or the first interplanetary internet. 
  • Space-Weather Measurements: An array of CubeSats flying in formation can easily gather spatially resolved data in Earth's magnetosphere to learn more about solar flares and the aurora, making space weather as predictable as Earth weather. Fleets of spacecraft can also make coordinated optical observations for specific ground or celestial items of interest. 
  • Asteroid Inspection: A CAT-propelled CubeSat could be sent to the asteroid belt with scanning equipment and a radio beacon payload to identify and mark an asteroid of interest for later retrieval, mining, or human exploration.

This is just the beginning of how these CAT-propelled CubeSats could be used to go to destinations that have never been visited, but we need your help to get things off the ground – literally.

Social: Spread The Word, You’re Going To Space

Click to go to www.GoBluePlasma.com for links to our Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages. Also find links to our patents and technical information. Use #GoBluePlasma, #space and #CATengine during the campaign to join in the conversation.  After the campaign, we'll continue to provide updates so you can follow along with the progress of YOUR space mission.

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Funding: Why Kickstarter and Where Does My Money Go?

Summary - Funding from Kickstarter will allow us to test CAT in space.

Traditional university research funding starts with seed data, a small seed grant, a government grant and a large number of gates to go through over many years. We’d like to leverage Kickstarter funds to compress that timeline and go from initial seed data to flight in about 18 months, a much faster time scale than is possible with traditional grants. We love the idea of “Citizen Explorers” helping fund this project and are excited to have our backers be part of the journey.

While we have obtained some external funding, this mission may never happen without your help. Research funding is notoriously slow and filled with red tape. Technology demonstration missions can take over ten years to go from concept to launch. We want to do more faster, getting CAT from the drawing board to space in record time. With your help, we will be assembling everything into one compact thruster unit and testing integrated components in the lab, then in Earth orbit. If we reach stretch goals, we could be testing CAT in interplanetary space at a destination of your choice!

Our base funding goal of $50,000 is enough to add specialized equipment to the satellite to observe the plasma plume ejected by the CAT engine. Integrating a high-resolution camera and associated subsystems is critical to validate our theories on plasma flow along a magnetic nozzle and complete our test matrix when CAT is on-orbit. Because this is an entirely new type of engine, we need a camera in order to directly observe how the super heated plasma follows the magnetic nozzle and then detaches to create thrust. Without a camera we can’t know precisely when the plasma is being created. Basically, we need to see the engine actually creating plasma to verify our assumptions. On Earth it’s easy for us to observe the plasma during testing, but in space it’s much more difficult.
First plasma discharge in the CAT prototype. We will use a camera in space to image the plasma discharge and exhaust plume to look at the physics of how the plasma follows our new magnetic nozzle. (left - lab test setup, right - plasma!)
First plasma discharge in the CAT prototype. We will use a camera in space to image the plasma discharge and exhaust plume to look at the physics of how the plasma follows our new magnetic nozzle. (left - lab test setup, right - plasma!)

The CAT engine is being developed at the University of Michigan’s Plasmadynamics and Electric Propulsion Laboratory (PEPL), the ultimate playground for rocket scientists. Here, we will test the thruster in a vacuum and thermal environment as close to space as we can achieve on the ground.

Michigan’s Large Vacuum Test Facility will be our proving ground. This is the same facility used to test lunar rovers in the 60’s, upgraded for electric propulsion testing. Some funding will cover expenses related to using these University resources.
Michigan’s Large Vacuum Test Facility will be our proving ground. This is the same facility used to test lunar rovers in the 60’s, upgraded for electric propulsion testing. Some funding will cover expenses related to using these University resources.

Technical Details: Water As Fuel and The Science Behind CAT 

We live in a world of 20-30 mpg of fossil fuels. “Powered by the Sun and propelled by water” sounds like science fiction right? With CAT technology, solar-powered spacecraft can someday average over 1 billion miles per gallon using only water for fuel.

To date, only a few satellites have explored our vast Solar System. Once the CAT engine is proven, CubeSats will finally have the potential to reach deep space, something that has never been achieved. Currently, CubeSats piggyback to orbit on larger rockets. Once in space, they drift around Earth, trapped in their original orbit until they eventually de-orbit and burn up in the atmosphere. The CAT engine will extend the life of these CubeSats around Earth and will finally allow CubeSats to reach destinations far beyond Earth orbit.

CAD drawing of the CAT engine inside of a 3U CubeSat, flight proven solar panels we will use, the propellant tank and permanent magnets for the CAT engine.
CAD drawing of the CAT engine inside of a 3U CubeSat, flight proven solar panels we will use, the propellant tank and permanent magnets for the CAT engine.

CAT is currently at NASA Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 3, meaning we are in the midst of performing experiments to probe its feasibility, thanks to private sponsorship. We need your help to get all the way to TRL 8: A full-fledged demonstration of CAT’s capabilities in space. For the first test we will use xenon, a heavy, inert gas which is the industry standard for electric propulsion, to benchmark its performance. If we reach our stretch goals we’ll be able to develop the water propellant storage system that will make CAT a fully sustainable thruster.

Plasma thrusters have been used on satellites for decades, but they have been bulky devices weighing up to 10 kg (20 lbs), suitable only for large satellites such as Deep Space 1 and Dawn. The CAT design scales down previously demonstrated technology to make it practical for CubeSats, with a total weight of less than 0.5 kg (1 lb). Bam, miniaturization! The CubeSat for the CAT engine will be based off of existing and proven LEO and deep space flight technologies from the RAX-2 and INSPIRE CubeSats.

Radio Aurora Explorer (RAX) – 2 developed by MXL at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, now flying in space (left), and flight proven data interface module for down-linking data (right)
Radio Aurora Explorer (RAX) – 2 developed by MXL at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, now flying in space (left), and flight proven data interface module for down-linking data (right)

Here’s a detailed look at the principles behind the CAT engine: Just like a normal rocket that produces thrust from the burning and expansion of hot gases, CAT produces thrust from the expansion of a super-heated 350,000 °C plasma stream. Plasma is an ionized gas that can be accelerated to produce thrust (F=ma). The force generated by this thruster will be very low (micro-newtons) but very efficient. The engine will be turned on for long durations, accelerating the spacecraft to much higher velocities than a typical chemical rocket. Our first test will use xenon, a safe, non-toxic gas typically used in large-scale plasma thrusters. With support from you, we can begin work on our long-term goal of designing a water-based propellant system to make the first truly sustainable plasma propulsion device for CubeSats. 

Plasma liner and RF antenna.  The plasma liner is made out of a high purity quartz to contain the plasma and gas propellant while the RF antenna ionizes the propellant into super heated plasma.
Plasma liner and RF antenna. The plasma liner is made out of a high purity quartz to contain the plasma and gas propellant while the RF antenna ionizes the propellant into super heated plasma.

Still thirsty for more technical info? Check out our homepage (www.GoBluePlasma.com) and bask in the glory of the rocket science behind CAT.

Rewards: An Interplanetary Message in a Bottle

We were inspired by the famous Voyager spacecraft, traveling beyond the reach of our solar system. When Voyager was launched in 1977, scientists attached a Gold Record to it, with the following message: 

"This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours"               — U.S. President Jimmy Carter
"This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours" — U.S. President Jimmy Carter

In return for your support, we’ll provide you with a unique opportunity to get exclusive rewards. At many pledge levels, your message (initials, tweets, love notes, messages to ET, original song lyrics, location of the buried treasure) will be laser etched into a gold layer on the exterior spacecraft panels, exposed directly to the vacuum of space as homage to the Voyager Gold Record.

Your messages will be cast away from the Earth as a permanent record in space, the ultimate interplanetary “message in a bottle.” If we reach our stretch goals, we estimate that your name or message could last for millions of years, drifting among the stars. We will even return pictures and data from space directly to our backers.

Text laser engraved on the back of our solar panels. The surfaces will be gold plated for longevity in the depths of space. Example laser engraving on black anodized surface. Actual text size will vary.
Text laser engraved on the back of our solar panels. The surfaces will be gold plated for longevity in the depths of space. Example laser engraving on black anodized surface. Actual text size will vary.

Other rewards include stickers and mission patches, exclusive pictures, T-shirts, moon-mission inspired playing cards, limited edition plaques and fashion accessories, and even live classes for students, offering young minds a new perspective on the universe.

“Official Kickstarter Backer” T-shirts, stickers, mission patches and laser-etched solar cells with CAT logo and exclusive designs.
“Official Kickstarter Backer” T-shirts, stickers, mission patches and laser-etched solar cells with CAT logo and exclusive designs.
Limited-edition scarves and bowties from BowTie Cause, designed exclusively for this campaign. Inspired in part by Bill Nye and Dhani Jones, these are a great way to show your support and look fantastic at our launch party (or any party for that matter.)
Limited-edition scarves and bowties from BowTie Cause, designed exclusively for this campaign. Inspired in part by Bill Nye and Dhani Jones, these are a great way to show your support and look fantastic at our launch party (or any party for that matter.)
SPACESUIT 1 - Scarf Fabric Sample
SPACESUIT 1 - Scarf Fabric Sample
SPACESUIT 2 - Bowtie Fabric Sample
SPACESUIT 2 - Bowtie Fabric Sample

The MISSION CONTROL pledge level provides a personal tour and (if the stars align) a chance to push some buttons and fire a real rocket engine here on Earth. 

MOONSHOT rewards include an opportunity to launch an MXL Project Strato high-altitude balloon carrying a personal item of your choice to near space (over 90,000 feet) and go on the exciting chase with fellow space enthusiast Dhani Jones.  

Backers who pledge for GO BUTTON and PURE AND SIMPLE will get a limited edition engineering model of the first CAT spacecraft. The lucky backer who pledges for GO BUTTON will have the chance to fire the CAT engine in space, initiating mission maneuvers.

GO BUTTON/PURE AND SIMPLE engineering model of spacecraft. Though it’s designed to sit on your desk, it has nearly all of the capability for making a trip to the Moon! Includes gold plated laser engraved name tag on base. 10-inch tablet shown for scale.
GO BUTTON/PURE AND SIMPLE engineering model of spacecraft. Though it’s designed to sit on your desk, it has nearly all of the capability for making a trip to the Moon! Includes gold plated laser engraved name tag on base. 10-inch tablet shown for scale.

Add-On Rewards

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Click image for complete add-on details

Free Giveaways!

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Click image for complete free giveaway details

Schedule: Countdown To Launch

We are working to complete and vacuum-test a flight-qualified satellite with an integrated CAT. With Kickstarter funding, the spacecraft will be launched into Low Earth Orbit for CAT testing and verification. Testing will validate the CAT engine's performance and physics models developed by our team. Once these tests are completed, we will perform a series of spiral-out flight maneuvers to climb to higher and higher altitudes. If we make our stretch goals, we will continue our spiral trajectory in order to escape the Earth and reach the Moon, Mars or even an asteroid for research purposes.
 
Due to the CAT engine's low (but very efficient) thrust, escaping the gravitational pull of the Earth requires a series of spiral-out maneuvers, lasting several months.
Due to the CAT engine's low (but very efficient) thrust, escaping the gravitational pull of the Earth requires a series of spiral-out maneuvers, lasting several months.


Since this summer, we have achieved some exciting milestones in CAT development: 

  • Flight worthy magnet design 
  • Improved antenna 
  • First plasma 
  • Secured a space launch for a CAT demo 
  • Secured private funding to develop most of the CAT subsystems 

In the coming weeks we will be performing initial plasma tests with the permanent magnets installed. Once the prototype is functioning, we will package it into the CubeSat shell by the end of 2013. Rigorous testing in the first quarter of 2014 will evaluate the performance of the thruster and provide insight as we design and build a flight model. We have secured a launch in late 2014 and are on track to meet that goal, but we can’t do it without your help!

Once the CAT spacecraft is ready for launch it will be deployed as a secondary payload on a much larger satellite rocket launch. The CAT engine is turned on once safely deployed away from the larger satellite.
Once the CAT spacecraft is ready for launch it will be deployed as a secondary payload on a much larger satellite rocket launch. The CAT engine is turned on once safely deployed away from the larger satellite.

After launch, the satellite-mounted camera will be used for visual diagnosis of the plasma thruster. Visual inspection will be critical for the initial testing of the thruster. Then, once the thruster is operational, the camera can be turned toward the earth to share breathtaking photos with enthusiastic backers.

The Team: Student Rocket Scientists 

We are students, faculty and researchers at the University of Michigan:

Our team also includes personnel from the Michigan Exploration Laboratory (MXL), which has over six years of experience building and flying CubeSats.

Collaborators include NASA research centers and private industry: NASA Ames Research Center, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA Glenn Research Center, Planetary Resources, Deep Space Industries, Analytical Graphics Inc. and Aether Industries

Go Blue (Plasma!): Wolverine Notes of Interest

The University of Michigan has a rich history of aerospace exploration

Endorsements: Friends and Partners Show Their Support

"A tiny high-efficiency engine will enable Deep Space Industries to launch a small fleet of asteroid prospecting spacecraft, searching out targets with valuable volatiles and metals for the New Space frontier. We support this kickstarter for the astonishing low-cost capabilities this nano-size thruster will deliver for solar system exploration and development." 

-- David Gump, CEO, Deep Space Industries
-- David Gump, CEO, Deep Space Industries

"In-space propulsion technologies employing water, like the [CAT], will be of increasing importance as access to water from volatile-rich asteroids becomes reality."

-- Hannah Goldberg, Senior Systems Engineer, Planetary Resources
-- Hannah Goldberg, Senior Systems Engineer, Planetary Resources

"CubeSats are altering the paradigm of space exploration, and we are incredibly excited whenever we get to see a development that can quite literally take the next step in that evolution! The CAT thruster would offer a wealth of new opportunities, and we're truly excited to be a part of making it a reality."

-- Chris Wake, VP of Business Development, NanoSatisfi
-- Chris Wake, VP of Business Development, NanoSatisfi

“Ever since I was young I dreamed of going to space. [The University of] Michigan seemed about as far away as outer space, and little did I know they had such an amazing role in the history of the space program. This project is the beginning of a dream, and I am so happy to see my university engaged in such awe-inspiring work.”

-- Dhani Jones, Partner VMG Creative and PROCLAMATION, Founder Bowtie Cause
-- Dhani Jones, Partner VMG Creative and PROCLAMATION, Founder Bowtie Cause

Stretch Goals: To the Stars

  • $79,500 - Magneto - Advanced 3-Magnet nozzle for added efficiency. The magnetic nozzle will be modified to make it lighter weight and more efficient, allowing for more accurate CubeSat orbital positioning and a longer lifespan while in Earth orbit.
  • $150,000 - Hyperdrive - Advanced flow controls for variable thrust, giving CAT-propelled satellites some serious maneuverability. Precise control would give the CAT engine greater flexibility so it could be used for low flying spacecraft, orbital station keeping, or interplanetary travel. We will also make an attempt at setting a Guinness Book World Record to become the fastest university-built spacecraft ever launched.
  • $300,000 - H2OhMyyy! - Complete development of a water propellant system to be launched on a second CAT-propelled satellite in 18-24 months.
  • $500,000 - Turbo Boost - Increased throttle range for two modes of operation 1) High thrust to climb outside of Earth's gravity well, and 2) Higher Isp (specific impulse) for faster cruising.
  • $1,000,000 - Space Race - Two CAT-propelled CubeSats will race to escape the Earth first. This dual-launch will occur within approximately 24 months. Each spacecraft will have slightly different (competing) designs that will be tested and characterized on the ground and then put to the true test once in space. We will host an insane launch party in Ann Arbor on the date the spacecraft launch from the Earth (maybe in The Big House!) Wear your Scarves and Bowties and prepare for a fully catered affair. All backers will be invited regardless of donation amount.
  • $1,750,000 - Close Encounters of the Awesome Kind - Help us become the highest-funded space project in Kickstarter history and vote on where your satellite goes in space. We will buy a ride on a rocket that is being kicked out into deep space. This would mean CAT escapes "for free", and then starts thrusting to get to an asteroid, the Moon or Mars. That’s right, Kickstarter + Rocket Science = Space travel to your destination of choice! The best part about this: All backers get to vote on the destination regardless of pledge amount (1 vote/backer.) We will open-source all science return data.
  • $7,000,000 - Interplanetary Internet - Let's get ludicrous. If we reach $7 million, we’ll launch ten CubeSats with networking capability placed into optimal orbits by CAT engines, establishing the first interplanetary internet and paving the way for total solar system domination.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

In the world of cutting edge research, sometimes there are issues that can result from technical difficulties, launch delays, and communication challenges. These are just some of the known risks that may lie ahead. Fortunately, our team is prepared to tackle these difficult issues. Our backers must understand that the CAT Mission may become delayed for any number of reasons. CAT may also have technical difficulties in orbit, be assimilated, or get blown up by a Death Star. For reference, here’s a link to our absolute worst-case scenario (http://goo.gl/K1ZUd). We will keep our backers updated regularly regarding our continued progress towards overcoming such difficult hurdles. We appreciate your patience.

FAQ

  • We are using passive magnetic stabilization to orient the spacecraft. Our thruster generates a magnetic field that interacts with earth's magnetic field to stabilize the satellite's motion. Once per orbit, our thruster will align correctly and we will fire for 5-10 minutes. We will then turn the thruster off and wait until the thruster is aligned again about 80 minutes later.

    Check out this video to see what the orbit will look like: https://www.youtube.com/watch…

    Last updated:
  • Deep space CubeSat communication is a big challenge and an ongoing research topic. There have been some recent innovations in spacecraft antenna design that improves signal pickup and broadcast. But at some point, you really just need a big dish on earth when communicating into deep space. That's why the University of Michigan recently acquired the Peach Mountain facility (http://exploration.engin.umich.edu/blog/…) which our partners at the Michigan Exploration Laboratory are working to bring online.

    Last updated:
  • You can laser engrave any name or initials or name on the satellite, it doesn't have to be your own. After the campaign concludes, we will send out a backer survey for backers at each reward tier. The survey will ask what text you would like on the satellite, you are free to put anyone's initials or name or message. Some inspirations are: spouses' initials, kids or parents' initials, wedding dates, birthdays, in memoriam initials for loved ones, pets names, school names, graduation dates, sorority and fraternity lettering (we can do Greek!) and so on.

    Last updated:
  • Using the lifetime of the spacecraft and the change in velocity (ΔV) produced by the thruster we project that the total distance over the lifetime of the satellite is about 100,000 km. Using the thruster's ~1 cup of fuel as propellant, this comes out to about 1 million miles per gallon. The analogy isn't perfect, but it is difficult to frame ΔV and specific impulse in terms to which the general public can relate. This was our attempt to make a rough comparison.

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    256 backers

    ONE SMALL STEP - A uniquely numbered certificate of thanks, a CAT sticker and regular email updates.

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    238 backers

    SPACE CAMP - Includes an embroidered mission patch and 10 HD pictures (digital) of the CAT Engine during testing and in space. Includes ONE SMALL STEP rewards.

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    LUNAR GRAFFITI - Apollo Astronaut and Moonwalker Eugene Cernan left his daughter's intials on the Moon. Now you can send your initials or those of a loved one into space by having them laser-etched on our spacecraft for an actual trip to space. You will receive a high-quality digital picture of your engraving. Includes SPACE CAMP rewards.

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    EARLY BIRD SPECIAL - Act fast to get a deal on LOST IN SPACE rewards!

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    LOST IN SPACE - This will ensure the aliens know who to come party with on Earth when they find our spacecraft. Have your name laser etched into the spacecraft (up to 30 characters). You will receive a high-quality digital picture of your engraving. Also get your very own limited edition CAT Kickstarter Backer T-Shirt. Includes SPACE CAMP rewards.

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    PALE BLUE DOT - Our take on the famous picture of Earth as seen from space. Get an original 8x10 inch high-resolution picture of Earth, as taken by our spacecraft from a vantage point of our choosing. While you're waiting for the real picture to arrive from space, you also get 1 deck of limited-edition designer playing cards emblazoned with surreal space imagery created right here on Kickstarter (http://goo.gl/CzcskM). Includes LOST IN SPACE rewards.

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    SPACESUIT 1 - Who says scientists aren't stylish? This limited edition 100% silk scarf (39x39 inches) designed exclusively for this campaign by BowTie Cause is a great way to flaunt your support of space exploration. Designed to match the bowtie from SPACESUIT 2 reward. Includes LUNAR GRAFFITI rewards.

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    SPACESUIT 2 - Dhani Jones, Michigan Football legend, NFL star and self-proclaimed space nut has a friend who once told him, "If you wanna be somebody, you gotta rock a bowtie." A famous 'Science Guy' also subscribes to this philosophy, so snazz up your look and support a good cause in the process. Get a limited edition 100% silk bowtie designed by BowTie Cause in support of this campaign and matching the SPACESUIT 1 scarf. Includes LUNAR GRAFFITI rewards.

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    UNIVERSAL TWEET (First 100 backers get EARLY BIRD deal) - Astronaut Mike Massimino sent the first Tweet from space back to Earth in 2009. Now it's your turn to send a Tweet the other direction. Send your very own 140 character message into space, laser-etched into our spacecraft. You will receive a high-quality digital picture of your engraving. Also get a CubeSat solar cell to keep on your desk and admire. These are laser engraved in our labs with the CAT logo and "Official Kickstarter Backer." Each solar cell measures 2x4 cm. You will also receive a set of 5 unique flight Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) measuring 10x10 cm. These bare PCBs will be printed in a large batch for our research purposes. The actual flight PCBs will be selected from this larger batch, and now you can own the same PCB engineering unit for display purposes or as perfectly sized high-tech drink coasters. EARLY BIRD - First 100 backers get a larger solar cell (4x8 cm). Includes PALE BLUE DOT rewards.

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    ORION'S BELT - As the CAT engine guides our spacecraft in a spiral pattern away from Earth, we will have an incredible number of vantage points from which to observe our celestial home. Like the three stars on Orion's Belt, this reward includes a framed triptych of three 10x8 inch images of the Earth taken from space from multiple vantage points throughout our journey. We will allow you to choose your three favorite shots from a series of pictures we provide. Pictures will include exclusive backer info and CAT team signatures if you're so inclined. Exciting art for your home or office. Includes LOST IN SPACE awards.

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    HEAD OF THE CLASS - Just like Planetary Society President Bill Nye, you too can help educate students about science and space. Donate time to a class of students at a school of your choice. We will host two 45 minute sessions (online) led by one of our very own student rocket scientists! Our team will bring STEM education directly into a classroom of your choice, helping kids learn about space, science and physics. The classes will be tailored to the US elementary, junior or high-school level, and can be taught to English-speaking classes outside of the US. We will laser engrave the school name and the initials of each student onto the satellite, and the class will receive a high-quality digital picture of your engraving. The school will also receive a 20x30 inch framed photo of Earth as seen by our satellite. Picture will include autographs from the CAT team (you will select the picture from a series we provide). Includes UNIVERSAL TWEET and one of the SPACESUIT awards.

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    VOYAGER - Our homage to the ultimate interplanetary explorer. Includes a limited edition 12x12-inch wooden plaque with exclusive images of CAT designs, in-space photographs from CAT and a custom-made gold plate engraved with CAT logo plus your name or company name and logo. Also includes your name or company name and logo laser-engraved on the CAT propellant tank in large font, visible in PR photos of the propellant tank to be released when the spacecraft is launched. Includes SPACESUIT 1 or 2.

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    MISSION CONTROL - You get to be the rocket scientist! Tour our awesome labs at The University of Michigan and meet the CAT team. Watch demos and see what's going on with your very own satellite. You may even have an opportunity to push the 'go' button and light up a real rocket engine! A great gift for students or families. Make your memories last for millions of years by laser engraving a significant message, poem, or the lyrics to your favorite song on the spacecraft. At 3000 characters, you can send out nearly two pages of anything in the English language (keep it civilized though!) As an added bonus, once on-orbit, our spacecraft will broadcast your laser-engraved message back to Earth for the world to see. Note max of 10 people per visit, transportation to Ann Arbor not included. Includes HEAD OF THE CLASS rewards.

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    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    MOONSHOT - Launch an item of your choice (up to 2 kg/4.5lb) to the edge of space via an MXL balloon. Your item will float to over 90,000 feet and we'll include an HD video of the entire ride plus an official certificate that your item has been to space. We will launch near Ann Arbor with UM/NFL legend and fellow space nut Dhani Jones, who will accompany you to the launch and on the balloon chase through the countryside! If balloons aren't your thing, you have the option to golf 18 holes with Dhani on The University of Michigan's championship course and then share a meal with one of the greats. Single round-trip flight included within the continental US. Includes MISSION CONTROL rewards.

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    2 backers Limited (18 left of 20)

    Let's keep it PURE AND SIMPLE: A limited-edition engineering model of our spacecraft and thruster on a museum-quality display stand engraved with your name and campaign information. Have your name (or company name) and message laser engraved in 14 point font onto the propellant tank, visible in our PR and launch photos. The tank will also be directly exposed to space once the solar panels flip open. Includes ORION'S BELT rewards.

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    1 backer All gone!

    3, 2, 1, GO BUTTON! Make space history by lighting up the CAT engine in space to commence mission maneuvers (maybe to Mars!) Have your name and message laser engraved in 14 point font onto the propellant tank, visible in our PR and launch photos. The tank will also be directly exposed to space once the solar panels flip open, and your engraving may be visible with our camera for awesome pictures from space. Also receive an engineering model of our spacecraft and thruster on a museum-quality display stand engraved with your name and campaign information. Single round-trip flight included within the continental US. Includes MISSION CONTROL rewards.

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Funding period

- (18 days)