Pocket Spacecraft hopes to launch personalized moon missions

A Kickstarter project wants to open up lunar exploration to regular people around the world through a fleet of tiny, flat spacecraft.

Pocket Spacecraft prototype
The prototype Pocket Spacecraft is thin and light. Pocket Spacecraft

Chances are, most of us will never have the opportunity to walk on the moon, but we might have the opportunity to send a tiny spacecraft in our stead. A Kickstarter project from Pocket Spacecraft wants to launch a moon mission full of personalized space gadgets that would report back to their Earth-bound owners.

Pocket Spacecraft is attempting to raise $440,000 to build out a whole fleet of its tiny spacecraft (called Scouts) and invest in an Interplanetary CubeSat Mothership to transport the little tykes to the lunar surface.

Each Scout consists of a polyimide disc, made from the same material that goes into spacesuits and solar sails. It has a metal hoop that doubles as an antenna. Solar cells, sensors, and instruments can be bonded to the surface to create a super thin and light device. A thousand of these could be sent out on one interplanetary CubeSat.

Sending a minion to the moon isn't cheap. The lowest pledge price that gets you in the lunar door is $300 for a customizable thin-film Scout. Double that and you'll get access to a software development package. If you want to keep things closer to home, then a $150 pledge gets you an Earth Scout that will be released into Earth's atmosphere.

Customizing your Scout will be done online, where you can add a picture or customize a transmittable message. More advanced users can build software to interact with on-board sensors or control the hardware features of the Scout.

The Personal Spacecraft project is complex and ambitious, but the idea of opening up lunar exploration to everyone is both intriguing and enticing.

About the author

Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET's Crave blog. When not wallowing in weird gadgets and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.

 

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