We've become closer to space than we could ever imagine recently. Through the likes of SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, it's fair to say the idea of taking the kids on a holiday excursion to deep space is becoming less far-fetched as the years pass by. However a recently launched Kickstarter, called Pocket Spacecraft, project doesn't hope to get you into "space tourism," rather give all backers their own "personalised spacecraft" to send into orbit.
Pledge more than £19 into the project, and you'll get partial or complete ownership of a "scout" spacecraft: a small disc packed with solar cells to power it, a number of sensors to collect data, and a metal antenna to transmit it all back. The owner/owners are able to add their own personal touch, customising with anything from a simple printed message, self-written software, or even customise the on-board hardware enabling them to conduct their own unique experiments. The two examples Pocket Spacecraft suggest are "mapping the solar wind or playing laser tag – in space!" You made the sale at laser tag...
You will be able to track the craft and all the information it's collecting about its surroundings, using either your browser, or a Pocket Mission Control app on smartphones.
The team over a hundred volunteers, spanning twenty countries including here in Bristol, have set a pledge target of £290,000 for August 26th. After a mere few days, it has already raised nearly £9,000. The Spacecrafts will be launched into space via an "Interplanetary CubeSat Mothership," which itself will be riding on the back of a commercial rocket. Once dispatched at its destination near the moon, they can theoretically move around space with the use of small solar sails.
“By backing this mission people will revolutionise space exploration and space science” enthuses Michael Johnson, Founder of Pocket Spacecraft. “By democratising interplanetary space exploration we will create a generation of young explorers who can use the same affordable methods to explore Mars, Venus and beyond. We’re building tools so that one day every child will be able to send their own spacecraft on a robotic field trip in space."
If you've ever wanted to explore space for yourself, no matter how vast and empty it probably is, you owe it to yourself to pledge for this project.
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.