August 10, 2012
Crowd Funding Venture Hopes To Further Space Exploration And Education
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Astronomers and scientists have gotten together to create applications that both make space education fun, and help create income to fund research and development projects.
Uwingu (which means “sky” in Swahili and is pronounced “oo-wing-oo) is a company made up of astronomers, planetary scientists, former space-program executives, and educators.
The company has announced plans to launch a series of projects to help generate funding for space exploration, research, and education efforts around the world.
“Uwingu will employ novel software applications to game-ify space, with the profits going toward research and education,” citizen science leader Dr. Pamela Gay said in a prepared statement. “Our projects will be fun to use, and the proceeds from their use will make a real difference in how space exploration, research, and education is funded.”
The company said the project is already built and is seeking the public's support to help raise funds for Internet and other businesses.
"We've already put the equivalent of over $1M in software development into our first project through contributed hours by our team," co-founder and former NASA science boss Dr. Alan Stern said. "We've each contributed personal funds as well, but to build up the nest egg of capital we need to launch our web site, we are asking people who believe in our mission to help finance that via our IndieGoGo campaign"
The campaign launched last week, and co-founder of Uwingu and CEO of the Planetary Science Institute, Dr. Mark Sykes, said that they have high ambitions.
"We want to use commercial sales to generate a new funding stream for space research, space education, and even space exploration. Nothing like this has ever been done," Sykes said in a press release.
"At a time when the world needs as many science and engineering savvy people as we can get, Uwingu has an important new role to play in supporting and promoting space education," space educator Dr. Emily CoBabe-Ammann said.
Other team members a part of Uwingu include space historian and author Andrew Chaikin, author and museum science director Dr. David Grinspoon, planet hunter Dr. Geoff Marcy, and planetary scientist and aerospace executive Dr. Teresa Segura.