Every couple of months I do a scan for new space-related projects on the crowdfunding sites. Right now you can support projects ranging from space journalism, to amateur and professional research, to outreach projects, to Near Space exploration... to space bacon.
As mainstream media declines, newspapers and broadcasters have cut back on the number of reporters they employ - especially specialists like science writers. (See this Nature article for more) Several science journalists are turning to crowdfunding services to earn money directly from their readers:
- Science writer Elizabeth Howell uses Beacon to report on New Horizon’s fly-by of Pluto. The money she raises will cover travel expenses as she interviews Nasa leadership and scientists working on the space mission.
- Science writer Shannon Hall uses Beacon to report on the search for Earth-like exoplanets. Using her training in both astronomy and journalism, Hall will provide sponsors with monthly articles and critiques of often inaccurate coverage in mainstream media.
- Science writer Bruce Lieberman uses Beacon to fund a series on today’s Golden Age of Astronomy. His interviews and articles will cover the big questions professional astronomers are trying to answer.
- TMRO (formerly spacevidcast) uses Patreon to fund its weekly video podcast. Patrons get shout-outs and advance information about upcoming live shows.
- Frasier Caine uses Patreon to support Universe Today. Patrons get early access to video content and never have to see ads on the Universe Today website.
- New Space website Moonandback wants to transcribe 100 hours of video interviews with space industry leaders. They will donate their fully searchable archive to the Smithsonian Institute's National Air & Space Museum.
Amateur and professional scientists increasingly turn to crowdfunding sites to fund their research:
- Undergraduate and graduate students at Northwestern University need money to create TiO2 nanofoams in microgravity. They won a spot in Nasa’s Flight Opportunities Program to conduct microgravity research on a parabolic airplane flight, but need help buying the raw materials for their project.
- Penn State University’s Lunar Lion project needs help funding its entry in the Google Lunar X-Prize. Their RocketHub campaign hopes to fund the construction and testing of their lunar lander prototype.
- An independent researcher needs help funding his research into radiation-resistant plants. He wants to splice DNA from a radiation-resistant fungus into plants to see if it makes the plants more resistant to radiation.
- Amateur astronomer Brian Potter is raising money on RocketHub to fund his variable star research. Rather than struggle with the polluted skies above Detroit, Potter will use the money he raises - along with money of his own - to pay for online telescope services.
Space outreach projects promise to encourage more involvement in space and inspire kids to pursue careers in science and engineering:
- Morgan Johnstone will develop smartphone apps that make astronomy more accessible to the visually impaired. Johnstone himself is legally blind but hasn't let that quench his interest in astronomy.
- The Space Generation Advisory Council wants to send student entrepreneurs to the International Astronautical Conference in Toronto. The students are selected based on papers they write about entrepreneurial and economic aspects of space.
- Australian teacher Anni Hanna wants to send her students to Space Camp at Nasa’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Here Indiegogo campaign will cover travel and registration costs for up to 15 students and 2 teachers.
The earliest crowdfunded space projects were DIY attempts to send cameras, toys, and the occasional science project into Near Space. The tradition continues:
- Dutch high school students want to send their graduation project into Near Space. Their Kickstarter project will fund the remaining expenses to launch their self-designed circuit board into the stratosphere.
- Rockzip Highballoons wants to lower the cost of high-altitude balloon flights. Their Kickstarter project will fund production of their system for student Near Space projects.
- Jordan Berg wants to send a picture of himself and his girlfriend into Near Space.
And in the stand-alone category of everything goes better with bacon:
- Brooklyn’s Bill Brisette wants to be the first person to send bacon into Near Space on a high-altitude balloon.