While Kickstarter is sometimes used to fund fictional movies with spaceships, it is now being put to good use by raising money to build a real spaceship.
The LightSail: It’s like the Prius of Spaceships.
This year there has already been a lot of mind blowing talk in the world of space flight. This past month NASA made headlines with the rumor that its experimental “Em Drive” form of propulsion could lead to a Star Trek style faster than light warp drive. While it turns out that this may have been a bit overhyped, one guy has his sights set on another unique form of space travel that is really going to take off: Bill Nye The Science Guy is going to launch a solar powered spacecraft.
A small satellite called a CubeSat will unfurl 32 meters of shiny Mylar material into giant solar sails. Photons of light from the sun will push on the solar sail propelling it just like wind would push a sail boat. As Bill Nye explains; “If sunlight is shining on something it is actually giving it a tiny push. So if we can get a spacecraft up in space that has enough area and low enough mass, sunlight gives it a push.”
If the solar sail works, it is a big leap forward and could dramatically reduce the cost of space launches, reducing the amount of fuel on board needed to propel the craft.
Bill Nye, best known for his beloved science education television show is also the CEO of The Planetary Society a nonprofit organization focused on space research and advancement which was founded by famed cosmologist, the late Carl Sagan. Nye along with the Planetary Society launched a Kickstarter campaign on Tuesday to raise the remaining $200 thousand out of the nearly $4.2 million they have raised in order to build and launch this experimental solar spacecraft. In one day the campaign reached its goal and as of this writing is at $383 thousand dollars, with projections to over a million dollars.
Unlike other experimental space initiatives you read about The Planetary Society is already building and testing prototypes of the LightSail and aims to launch the finished craft in 2016.
Check out the Kickstarter page here for The LightSail.
Follow Phil Haney on Twitter @PhilHaney
Source: NBC News