After speaking with Tyler Yohe, the Creative Director of Escaping Titan, I was intrigued by the concept of the 'Terraboom Era' where governments, corporations, and even individuals collaborated to gather the necessary resources for space colonization. What struck me were the similarities between the ‘Terraboom Era’ and our current time. For decades governments and corporations have teamed up to generate space missions, but recently it has become easier for individual people to contribute to space missions. Perhaps the emergence of crowdfunding will initiate the first 'Terraboom Era' here on Earth.
I first made the connection between the ‘Terraboom Era’ and today when recently inspired by Broken Crown Games’ successful Kickstarter project, which raised funds to develop an Escaping Titan sourcebook. Then, seeing that Planetary Resources received over $200,000 for its crowdfunded ARKYD Space Telescope in just one day led me to further contemplate the future of crowdfunding as a primary means of supporting space missions.
In recent years, there has been a significant amount of capital invested via the masses. According to the research firm Massolution, individual donors pledged $2.7 billion through crowdfunding in 2012, an 81% increase from 2011.
Crowdfunders support causes they feel passionate about, in return for very little. Whether it be the creation of a video to promote a small business they believe in, or launching a space telescope, crowdfunders can feel involved in whatever project they contribute to. Receiving individual donations is also a surefire way to incorporate the public and gain their support because everyone is invested in the cause. What then is to stop entire space missions from being funded by public donations?
The biggest impediment to space missions these days is a lack of investment, but crowdfunding changes that. With an adequate marketing and media relations division working on inspiring the public to contribute to your project, there is no limit to the amount of capital you could raise. Not only could entire missions be funded, but you could also use crowdfunding to establish an incentive for accomplishing a goal.
How many people want to see humans land on Mars? Or Europa? Or Titan? Hundreds of millions probably? Out of those people how many would be willing to donate just $1 a month to that cause? Now imagine how much could be raised with millions of people donating every month. After a few years wouldn’t that become an incentive to attempt that mission? Definitely! Just take a look at the Google Lunar X Prize if you need proof.
Doesn’t that sound like the ‘Terraboom Era,’ where governments, people and individuals all gathered resources to colonize space? Well, thanks to a non-profit called The Mars Initiative, we may have entered ‘Terraboom Era,’ where even your average person begins contributing to the expansion of humanity.
David J Geaney is the Media Relations Director of The Mars Initiative, a non-profit organization establishing a crowdfunded prize for the first humans to land on Mars.
DAVID J GEANEY
Media Relations Director
The Mars Initiative