A Kickstarter campaign to launch the first-ever crowdfunded rocket to the moon kicked-off on Thursday.
The project, dubbed Moonspike, is headed by Kristian von Bengtson, a former contractor at NASA and Chris Larmour, the co-founder of Copenhagen Suborbitals.
The two have been designing the rocket and educating themselves on the regulatory process that is to come for the past nine months using seed money raised by Larmour’s friends. Seven engineers with experience building and launching rockets also compose the Moonspike team.
The money raised through the Kickstarter campaign will go toward building the actual rocket. Larmour told Tech Insider the team is well aware that “tens of millions” will actually be needed to successfully complete the project, and he’s not wrong — to send a kilo of anything into space, the fuel cost alone can range anywhere between $US10,000 to $US50,000.
But Larmour said he hopes that the money raised through the Kickstarter campaign will give the group enough of a concrete start to be able to approach investors for more funding. Through the campaign, Moonspike has raised $US12,332 of its almost $US910,000 goal.
Larmour said he got the idea for building a rocket when he was scrolling through Reddit one day. While on Reddit, he saw photos of balloons being sent into space to take photos.
“I thought to myself ‘well that was new and interesting six to seven years ago, but can’t we do something different? How hard can it be to get to the moon?'” Larmour said. “Many people said, ‘pay someone to get to the moon,’ but it’s not about paying someone to get there, it’s about getting there.”
Larmour decided to email von Bengtson out of the blue to find out how to go about getting to the moon. Von Bengtson seemed like the best option because of his involvement with Copenhagen Suborbitals, a non-profit that successfully launched and constructed privately built rockets.
Once von Bengtson said he was on board, the two hit the ground running. The purpose is to show a rocket can be built from the ground up and reach its destination without the assistance of a government-run agency or private company for the very first time.
The rocket will act like a space-travelling time capsule by carrying images, video and other data from Kickstarter backers. The items will be kept in a radiation-shielded memory vault and lodged into the moon’s lunar surface.
The design for the rocket puts it at 22 tons and 77 feet tall. Once the rocket gets to space, it will be able to unload enough weight to cut down to 330 pounds and carry the vault the rest of the way.
Larmour said throughout the project, Moonspike will be completely transparent about the various stages the project is in. This includes keeping backers up-to-date on funding and the process for getting a licence to launch a vehicle through the United Kingdom Space Agency.
“Frankly speaking, I didn’t set out to be a space entrepreneur,” Larmour said. “Now, I’m in it. I intend to take it seriously.”
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