A group of top-notch research scientists got the idea that we need a way for people to directly fund space and scientific research. They created Uwingu - Swahili for "sky" - a project where they provide services and goods for people, and the money made goes toward furthering exploration. The project needs $75,000 to get started (server costs, salaries, and so on), and so an IndieGoGo funding drive (much like KickStarter) was started.
The fundraising drive ends at midnight Pacific time tonight, Monday night (08:00 Tuesday morning UTC). As I write this, it still needs about $7500 to meet the goal.
Full disclosure: I am officially on the Board of Advisors (a volunteer, unpaid position) for this project. At the current time, we don't want to reveal everything we have planned to raise money for research once the seed money is achieved, but the ideas I have heard are solid and worth pursuing. Also, the people involved really are good folks, and personal friends of mine: Alan Stern (head cheese of the New Horizons Pluto probe, former Associate Administrator of science for NASA, and someone who has experience getting grass-roots projects for funding science off the ground), planet hunter extraordinaire Geoff Marcy, educator Pamela Gay, space historian and author Andy Chaikin, and other seriously talented folks. You can see the list of everyone involved on the Uwingu IndieGoGo page.
I met with Alan Stern yesterday and we talked some specifics, and again while I cannot reveal anything here just yet, I'm confident the ideas behind Uwingu are good ones, and can help scientific research. We already have groups involved like SETI, Planetary Resources (the asteroid mining people), Lockheed-Martin, Ball Aerospace, and XCOR Aerospace. And once Uwingu is up and running the first planned funding will go to the SETI Allen Telescope Array.
If you want more info, Dr. Stern is scheduled to be on Coast to Coast AM radio tonight to talk about Uwingu, while there's still a couple of hours left in the campaign. I've also written about Uwingu in an earlier post if you need more.
Thanks for your help. We need it.