Kickstarter to drill the moon's south pole is raising crazy cash

Lunar Mission One wants to bury a time capsule deep below the surface of the bottom of the moon, and it's asking the public to foot the bill. So far, humanity seems willing to chip in.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
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Eric Mack
3 min read

Lunar Mission One hopes to Kickstart its way to the moon. Lunar Mission One

Following the Rosetta mission's successful landing of the European probe Philae on a comet last week, a UK-based team is wasting no time attempting to capitalize on the renewed focus on space exploration. Lunar Missions, Ltd. conducted its own launch... of a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to raise funds for its plan to land a robotic probe on the lunar south pole and bury a time capsule there.

Turns out the calculation to raise funds for such a project now may have been quite savvy, as the campaign has already pulled in over £200,00 (about $313,000) -- or just over one third of its goal -- in its first 24 hours.

The mission isn't just about placing humanity's most impractical time capsule yet, of course. Organizers hope that a robotic lander with the ability to drill between 20 and 100 meters into the surface of an unexplored area of our lone satellite will produce some interesting science, too.

"What are the origins of the moon... Is the moon suitable for a permanent manned base for space exploration?" said Lunar Missions founder David Iron during a press conference this week. "These are a few of the questions that the mission will seek to help us answer."

The mission won't actually launch for about ten years, and has already been in the making for several years up to this point. That gives it a more realistic amount of time to raise money and actually get off the ground than say, the Mars One adventure, which is aiming to accomplish something much more ambitious by the middle of the next decade (even though it may not get much past two months, according to some MIT students).

According to Iron, Lunar Missions is hoping to fund its lunar drilling by selling space on a separate, private time capsule that will also be entombed on the moon. Basically, Kickstarter backers and others in later fundraising phases will be able to reserve space in a "digital memory box" to send text messages, photos or videos to the moon. There's also an option to include a strand of your hair if you want your actual DNA to have a permanent resting place beyond Earth.

Lunar Missions says it's done market research that tells it around 15 percent of the global population could afford a digital memory box and about one percent of that group will actually purchase one, generating "a mid-point projected revenue of £3billion (around $4.7 billion)."

That seems awfully optimistic to me, but then again, my Kickstarter to go bury some flash drives on the bottom of the moon didn't just raise over $300,000 in a day, so what do I know?

Lunar Mission One does have a little competition for the attention and dollars of space-obsessed geeks like myself, however.

Lunar Lion, the first ever university-led mission to the moon being run out of Pennsylvania State University, has also crowdfunded over $150,000 with far less media attention. For your $100 contribution, the Lunar Lion team won't just bury your digital message, they'll engrave it in gold and leave it on the moon. Fancy.

Good to see the space race is on again. Watch the full pitch video for more details below: