Send Your DNA to the Moon With Crowdfunded Mission
By Arjun Kharpal | @ArjunKharpal
A British company has launched a 600,000 British pound ($1 million) Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to get to moon and drill into its surface, with investors able to buy memory on a digital time capsule -- and even send their hair into space.
The Lunar Mission One project will use the initial funds to set up the plans for the moon landing and drilling and has signed up RAL Space -- which has been involved in developing more than 200 space missions -- as its technical advisers.
Enthusiasts can spend 60 pounds to buy some space on a "digital time capsule" -- a memory stick-like device -- to upload photos or videos. This will then be buried in the hole drilled by the capsule launched to the moon's South Pole. For a higher -- yet to be determined -- cost, punters would be able to pay to have strands of their hair taken on the trip.
People who want to be involved more deeply can pay 5,000 pounds for a place in the viewing gallery at mission control.
By mid-morning Wednesday, the Kickstarter campaign had nearly 500 backers who have raised a total of almost 49,000 pounds. Lunar Mission One has up to Dec. 17 to raise the required funds and move the project closer to lift off.
Government Space Cuts
David Iron, founder of Lunar Missions Ltd., said the crowdfunding drive was a response to a cutback in the global cutbacks on space exploration.
"It is a response to the fact that governments' space missions are as limited as ever for financing the kind of space projects that are designed for advancing knowledge and understanding," Iron told CNBC by phone.
"At the same time, by getting people involved in the financing, we are getting them involved in the project itself."
Bury Your Hair in Space?
When Lunar Mission One lands on the moon's south pole, it will drill to a depth of at least 20 meters deep, but could go as far as 100 meters, with the aim of analyzing lunar rock to discover more about life on earth.
Iron said the mission will launch in 2024 and will need around half a billion pounds to become a reality and expects various forms of crowdfunding to make up the bulk of the revenues.
The funds raised will then be used to employ aerospace companies on contracts to build the technology needed to launch a spacecraft to the moon and begin drilling. Iron said he also expects space agencies to "gift us part of the technology".
"The consortium of companies will need to compete for contracts with us. They will want to be part of this and they will be paid for it out of the revenues but they need to assemble the best of breed for the technology," Iron told CNBC.
"We are expecting them to handle the contracts and take on the role a space agency would undertake."