18 November 2017   |  Last Updated 18-12-2014 06:18

      Thursday 18, December 2014

      Lunar Mission One reaches funding goal

      I am the moon
      Lunar Mission One, a project to send the UK’s first lunar probe to an unexplored region of the moon, has successfully met its funding target on Kickstarter.

      In a message to backers, the mission team wrote: “It’s been an amazing campaign and we are so grateful to all of you for your support, encouragement and your pledges!”

      “This is a lunar mission for everyone, so we will be looking for as much public engagement and participation as possible over the next 10 years. Please keep talking here – and keep spreading the word.”

      “We are at the beginning of an amazing adventure. Don’t just watch space exploration, be a part of it!”

      The success was met with congratulations from the scientific community, including Stephen Hawking.

      He said: "“Congratulations to Lunar Mission One and all its backers. Today they have achieved what are the first steps towards a lasting legacy for space exploration. Lunar Mission One is bringing space exploration to the people, and I have no doubt that young people and adults alike will be inspired by the ambition and passion of all those involved in the project. As a truly scientific endeavour, I wish it nothing but success over the coming years.”

      capsules on the lander

      The project reached its target of £600,000 36 hours before the deadline. Pledges kept coming in until £672,447 was received by the end. Depending on how much they pledged, backers received rewards such as sending strands of hair with the spacecraft and having their names inscribed on the lander.


      Last week we spoke to Dr. Katherine Joy, Senior Research Fellow at Manchester University and member of Lunar Mission One’s science team. We caught up with her now that the mission has been successfully funded:

      First of all, how are you feeling now that LM1 has been funded? 

       

      "It’s exciting that so many people from around the world are excited and want to be a part of the mission. It is just the first step on a long road to getting the mission planned properly, built and then hopefully successfully launched and landed.

       

      This first money raising exercise is just going to be one of many more over the next few years to make this project a reality so people hopefully can stay excited and wanting to help out more along the way."

       

      What's the immediate next step for you and the team, after celebrating? 

      "I believe now that the next step is for what is known as a mission ‘Phase A’ study. This is where different mission architectures are reviewed (for example, how big should a spacecraft be, what type of launch vehicle could be used, how much power will be needed, what challenges are there for technology development etc.), budgets planned and a science definition team assembled to help connect what is technological possible with realistic scientific objectives.

       

      This is where our science team expertise will be able to help guide what questions should be addressed by sending a mission to a polar region. We can hopefully identify a good range of experiment packages to answer these questions. This initial stage will then present ideas to be taken forward for more fund raising and industrial studies to start the mission build."

      close up of the lander

       

      The project did get funded but it was quite tense in the hours near the deadline - what would have happened for the people involved if the project wasn't funded? 

       

      "Probably felt immense frustration that the opportunity had slipped by! But we would all have kept plugging away to convince people that there is a great deal of exciting science to do on the Moon and on other planetary bodies as well. We are always on the lookout for opportunities to get to the Moon to land our experiments so hopefully we would have kept writing applications and negotiating with space agency bodies to find a way to explore our nearest neighbour."  

       

      Do you think crowd funding could be the future of space exploration?

      "I don’t really know. It is all rather at an experimental stage. There are several other crowd sourcing space mission or robotic experiments being advertised at the moment. I think it is going to be interesting to see how these ideas progress and how many are ultimately successful. I think that commercially driven spaceflight in collaboration with national/international space agency efforts is a promising way to go to provide access to space for practical (i.e., mining) applications."

      For more info on Lunar Mission One, click below:


      By Mike Birchall

        •