Sunday, January 04, 2015

The Right Way to Crowd Fund

          by Brian Orlotti

A private UK-based group that aims to land a probe on the lunar surface by 2024 has successfully raised over £672,447 GBP ($1.2Mln CDN) via crowd funding.

The ambitious Lunar Mission One (LMO) project seeks to land a drill-equipped probe on the Moon capable of drilling to a target depth of 100 m beneath its surface. The drill will penetrate down to unexposed rock and extract core samples for transport back to Earth. In addition to collecting rock samples, the probe will deploy thermal sensors that will measure heatflow through the moon's core as well as a seismometer that will measure moon quakes and meteor impacts. The samples and sensor data will provide greater insight into the Moon's origins as well as provide data that can be used to plan future missions, including long-term projects such as a crewed lunar base/spaceport.

Besides achieving these scientific objectives, LMO will also pursue a more connected goal. Inside the borehole, the probe will place a time capsule containing a record of life on Earth.

Backers who pledged more than £60 GBP (approx $108 CDN) will receive their own "digital memory box" to be buried in the time capsule. Backers can fill their "box" with personal messages, photos, audio or video. They can can even send a strand of their hair if they want their DNA on the moon. The group will continue selling the digital memory boxes even though the crowd funding campaign has ended.

The LMO kickstarter crowd funding website on December 18th, 2014. Graphic c/o Kickstarter.
As of Wednesday, Dec. 17th, 2014 (the campaign's end date), LMO had raised enough money to fund the project.

The project is managed by the Lunar Missions Trust, a UK-based not-for-profit group whose board includes engineers, investment advisers and space scientists. The probe will be built by RAL Space, a space R&D group that operates out of the Harwell Oxford Science and Innovation Campus, located in Oxfordshire, UK.

The project has assembled an impressive list of partner organizations from across UK academia, industry and government including the British Interplanetary Society, international law firm Fieldfisher Waterhouse LLP, the Imperial College London, the Open University, the Pagefield independent communications consultancy, the Science & Technology Facilities Council and the University of Oxford.

In addition to bringing professional scientific, financial, marketing and legal talent on board, LMO has also waged an aggressive social media campaign with endorsements from such notables as:
  • United Kingdom Member of Parliament Adam Afriyie, who chairs the UK Parliamentary Space Committee
LMO, by harnessing the skills of a broad pool of talent, gained a support base from multiple organizations and crafted a clear and focused message by offering a personal connection (via the memory boxes) to provide the ideal template for space-related crowd funding.

Brian Orlotti.
With such a firm support base, the odds for success increase...breeding further success.

Others would do well to watch and learn.

Brian Orlotti is a Toronto-based IT professional and a regular contributor to the Commercial Space blog.

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