How a Kickstarter project could bury your hair on the moon

The British nonprofit venture Lunar Mission One, which seeks to explore the moon's south pole, has come up with a novel way to solicit donations for its mission.

Even when a donation benefits scientific research, a potential giver might still need an incentive.

That’s why the London-based nonprofit Lunar Mission One aims to bring potential Kickstarter donors — or, at least their DNA — to the moon.

The venture announced today that it plans to land on the Moon’s south pole in the next decade. Its first fundraising benchmark is £600,000, or $950,000, which it aims to hit in the next four weeks.

Like other crowdfunding campaigns, Lunar Mission One has different stages of involvement for potential contributors.

For £60, donors can reserve a memory box to bury deep within the moon. The campaign suggests planting a strand of hair in the box, with which they could attach digital identifiers, like a text message or video (for an extra charge). More generous donors will reap perhaps more meaningful perks — those who give £3,000, for example, will have their names inscribed on the lunar landing module.

The mission is more than just a time capsule. The lunar south pole is of particular interest to scientist because it might harbor ice in some of its perpetually shadowed craters. Lunar Mission One plans to drill least 20 meters into the lunar rock, to better understand the moon's composition. 

After its launch today, almost 1,500 backers have pledged more than £140,000 so far, bringing the project nearly a quarter of the way to its goal. Seven people have pledged £5,000 or more, which earns them a place in the mission control viewing gallery to watch the spacecraft landing.

While the method of financing this space travel seems strange, it’s not unique. Objective Europa aims to put a submarine on Jupiter's fourth-largest moon, which is thought to have liquid water trapped beneath its icy surface. In 2013, its annual crowd-sourced budget totaled $400,000.

And a Cornell University alum successfully used Kickstarter to launch tiny spacecraft into low Earth orbit, meeting its $30,000 goal in December 2011 (today, nearly $75,000 has been pledged). 

These missions, traditionally the sole province of large nation states, are seeking donations as traditional space agencies are seeing their funding decline. For instance, last year NASA’s finances dropped below 0.5 percent of the federal budget for the first time since 1960. By comparison, at its peak NASA commanded 4.4 percent of the federal budget in 1966.

Even if it meets its £600,000 goal, Lunar Mission One has a long way to go: Successfully landing an unmanned spacecraft on the moon has historically tended to cost, at minimum, a few hundred million dollars. Still, the benefits of such a mission could be far-reaching, to say the least, particularly if, in the distant future, archaeologists digging on the moon happen upon a sealed capsule containing thousands of strands of hair from an ancient spacefaring ape species. Who’s to say that Kickstarter won't be the ones to forever preserve the human race?

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to How a Kickstarter project could bury your hair on the moon
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today