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Boosting the space race with crowdfunding?

Business Technology | December 30, 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 could 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? Probably.

An elevator into space?

Michael Laine provides an example. According to, this former NASA engineer and the founder of LiftPort is designing a lunar elevator, a means to get people to the moon without relying on rockets. He recently ran a Kickstarter campaign to generate $8,000 for this project. The results were remarkable: He instead earned $110,000 from more than 3,400 backers during 21 days.

An opening

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

The power of crowdfunding

The PCMag story outlined another crowdfunding success: private company Planetary Resources’ efforts to finance a low-orbit Earth telescope. The company had a plan 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.


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