A Creative New Concept for Funding Space Exploration and Astronomy

An impressive group of individuals from the space and astronomy community have teamed up to create an innovative, out-of-the-box concept to help solve what appears to be a growing problem for researchers, scientists, educators and students: how to get funding for research and other ground-breaking projects. With NASA and National Science Foundation budgets shrinking, a new start-up called Uwingu (which means “sky” in Swahili) will be working to provide ways to keep space science thriving.

Founders of the project include notable names like Alan Stern, Andrew Chaikin, Pamela Gay, Geoff Marcy, Mark Sykes, David Grinspoon, and Emily CoBabe-Amman.

Stern told Universe Today that the group’s initiative is not so much in response to the current government funding troubles, but a way to expand resources for the space and astronomy community, which is “just smart business,” he said.

However, it is an indication of changing times. “We couldn’t do this without the internet, frankly, which provides a new avenue for reaching people,” Stern said.

Additionally, Stern contrasted space and astronomy research, which mainly relies on NASA and NSF grants, to medical research, which has multiple lines of funding venues such as pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and the hundreds of medical foundations such as the American Cancer Society, in addition to government grants.

While Stern explained that he couldn’t yet reveal all the details of Uwingu, he did provide a few hints.

“The idea is to provide outstanding, innovative and cutting edge products,” he said. “We won’t just be accessing space and astronomy people who want to give to a cause, but will be accessing the general public, which is a much bigger marketplace.”

Dr. Pamela Gay wrote about Uwingu on her Starstryder website, saying “Their ideas are so elegant that I can’t believe they haven’t already been done.”

While the team is still finalizing some of their concepts, part of their reticence is building suspense. “Just like any new product line, it’s part of building suspense, just like Apple does when they release a new product. But we have a whole series of projects in work, and we want to do it right, too.”

Stern said part of what they are doing is to be a safety net for the space and astronomy community and part of it is to do new things. But, he added, when people have the greatest need is probably a good time to launch a project like this.

Uwingu is looking to raise an initial $75,000 through their Indiegogo site (similar to Kickstarter) to get the company going. After that, they hope to be self-sufficient and build enough resources to be a source of grants and funding for space and astronomy research.

“We are asking people to go the Indiegogo page, take a look and consider participating, and then to please pass it on to others you know.” Stern said. “For everyone 10 people you send it to, maybe one will contribute. This needs to grow organically by people passing it on through the internet. We’re hoping the space and astronomy people will help give us a start, but when it launches with the real first products out into the broader public, we think it will be a real breakout.”

“If we can get that message across, I think it will fly. I have faith in this,” Stern added.

To contribute to the project, or to learn more about Uwingu, visit the company’s Indiegogo page: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/180221

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004, and has published over 6,000 articles on space exploration, astronomy, science and technology. She is the author of two books: "Eight Years to the Moon: the History of the Apollo Missions," (2019) which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible; and "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" (2016) tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond. Follow Nancy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Nancy_A and and Instagram at and https://www.instagram.com/nancyatkinson_ut/

Recent Posts

Stellar Winds Coming From Other Stars Measured for the First Time

An international research team led by the University of Vienna has made a major breakthrough.…

2 days ago

Neutron Stars Could be Heating Up From Dark Matter Annihilation

Astronomers have an intriguing idea for searching for dark matter, measuring the effect of particle…

2 days ago

The Brightest Gamma Ray Burst Ever Seen Came from a Collapsing Star

After a journey lasting about two billion years, photons from an extremely energetic gamma-ray burst…

3 days ago

Formation-Flying Spacecraft Could Probe the Solar System for New Physics

It's an exciting time for the fields of astronomy, astrophysics, and cosmology. Thanks to cutting-edge…

3 days ago

Watch a Satellite Reaction Wheel Melt in a Simulated Orbital Re-Entry

Most satellites share the same fate at the end of their lives. Their orbits decay,…

3 days ago

NASA is Building an Electrodynamic Shield to Deal with all that Dust on the Moon and Mars

Exploration of the Moon or other dusty environments comes with challenges. The lunar surface is…

3 days ago