By Debra Werner,SAN FRANCISCO — Pennsylvania State University is launching a crowdfunding campaign on RocketHub Jan. 20 to raise $400,000 for its effort to send a robotic spacecraft to the Moon. The Penn State Lunar Lion Team, the only university-led team competing for the $20 million Google Lunar X Prize, was inspired to adopt the crowdfunding approach by the success of recent space-related initiatives on RocketHub, Kickstarter and similar websites.
The crowdfunding approach also is designed to encourage public participation. “We want this to be a mission done by the university but one that allows people around the world to participate and to be a part of this project,” said Michael Paul, Penn State’s director of space system initiatives.
The Lunar Lion Team has raised approximately $2.5 million of the $60 million the team estimates it will take to meet the requirements of the Google Lunar X Prize, which promises $20 million to the first team that succeeds by the end of 2015 in landing a robotic vehicle on the Moon, traveling 500 meters over the lunar surface and transmitting high-definition video to Earth.