This month, at the same time that The Planetary Society is launching the long-anticipated LightSail prototype for a shakedown cruise, we are excited to launch another “first”—our first-ever Kickstarter campaign. For some time, it has appeared clear that the movement toward on-line crowd funding would be a natural fit for The Society. It matches our approach both to technology projects—where we focus on incubating innovative ideas—and to fundraising—where we rely primarily on the power of our large membership to help us to reach financial goals. You see, we’ve actually been “crowd funding” ever since we started in 1981.
The LightSail project is a quintessential example of The Society’s approach to raising funds and it even takes them a step further. It will marry together two innovative technological developments: small, inexpensive CubeSats and free, inexhaustible propulsion on beams of light provided by our own sun. LightSail will help to democratize space by opening-up new, financially accessible pathways to the exploration of our solar system and perhaps even other stars so that more people can create more projects more of the time.
Crowd funding centers around the idea of community. It amplifies the power of the individual by allowing us to combine our resources to reach a greater goal. Through the Kickstarter campaign, we hope to connect with the Kickstarter community—some 7.8 million strong since it popped onto the scene in 2009—and to attract some of them to join our tribe of space enthusiasts.
I hope you will join me in welcoming this new development, in welcoming what we hope will be a crowd of new Planetary Society members, and in embracing this avenue for making gifts to support our projects. Take a moment to watch the project video, below, and then follow the link see our project which just went “live” this week. Our goal was ambitious by Planetary Society standards—$200,000. But, with your support and the power of the crowd, we have already shattered that goal. We are now reaching for the stars!
I can’t wait to back the LightSail project. Join me!