Uwingu LLC, a space-themed, for-profit start up, is seeking crowd-sourced funding to launch an ongoing series of public engagement projects. Uwingu’s mission is to use proceeds from those projects to generate funding for space exploration, research, and education efforts around the world. Uwingu’s launch project is already built and is seeking the public’s support to raise funds for Internet and other business costs it will incur in early operations. Co-founder Alan Stern said:
We’ve already put the equivalent of over $1M in software development into our first project … 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.
Uwingu (which means “sky” in Swahili, and is pronounced “oo-wing-oo) consists of astronomers, planetary scientists, former space program executives, and educators. Included in the company’s portfolio of space heavyweights are space historian and author Andrew Chaikin, space educator Dr. Emily CoBabe-Ammann, citizen science leader Dr. Pamela Gay, author and museum science director Dr. David Grinspoon, planet hunter Dr. Geoff Marcy, planetary scientist and aerospace executive Dr. Teresa Segura, planetary scientist and former NASA science boss Dr. Alan Stern, and planetary scientist and CEO of the Planetary Science Institute, Dr. Mark Sykes. Pamela Gay said:
Uwingu will employ novel software applications to game-ify space, with the profits going toward research and education. 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.
Emily CoBabe-Ammann added:
Uwingu’s influence on space education is going to be both broad and deep, with opportunities to impact audiences around the world. 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.
Mark Sykes said:
Our ambitions at Uwingu are high. 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.
The campaign for crowd-sourced launch funds launched in early August and will extend into September. Uwingu’s crowd funding agent is IndieGoGo (http://www.indiegogo.com/), a leader in the field.