The Planetary Society's LightSail spaceship is due to blast off into space on May 20th as part of its first test flight. However, the craft's primary mission is currently slated for 2016, and the organization needs extra funding to get it off the ground. To pull the feat off, Bill Nye launched a Kickstarter campaign this week to invite people to help with the launch.
Nye is asking for $200,000 in Kickstarter funds
The LightSail project costs $5.45 million, most of which has already been earned from private backers. However, the group still needs $1.2 million in funding. Nye set a modest goal of $200,000 yesterday, with stretch goals going all the way up to $1 million to cover construction costs, testing with partners, and even a public awareness campaign to help spread their research into CubeSats and solar sailing. As of this writing, the Society has already earned $104,925 in funding.
The 2016 launch will come 40 years after Carl Sagan first described the principles of solar sailing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1976. Since then, solar sails have been tested by Japan and NASA, but Nye and the Planetary Society hope the LightSail will demonstrate a viable, cost-effective way to travel through space in the future.