How Kickstarter is helping to promote private space flight

December 30th, 2013

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

First stop: The moon

The PCMag story considers the recent efforts of Michael Laine, a former NASA engineer and the founder of LiftPort. Laine has taken 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.

Why it’s needed

NASA’s decision to end its shuttle program provided a unique opening for private entrepreneurs. NASA is taking a break from exploring space. But private entrepreneurs aren’t. And they’re increasingly using sites such as Kickstarter to fund their own exploration into space.

The power of crowdfunding

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