Funding astronomy and space in a new way: Alan Stern’s Uwingu

Posted by David Eicher
on Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Planetary scientist Alan Stern has a name long familiar to readers of Astronomy. He’s a longtime contributor and a member of the magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board. Stern has been involved in many space missions, such as the New Horizons mission to Pluto, of which he is principal investigator. Frustrated with the difficulty of astronomy and science funding, he has now started his own company, Uwingu, that will raise funds for astronomical research.

“Other sciences all have a major spectrum of organizations and institutions to draw on,” says Stern, unhappy with major cutbacks in funding. “But astronomy pretty much has the National Science Foundation and a few other sources, and that’s it.”

So Stern came up with the idea of creating a “benefit corporation,” a business that does things for social good, to help fund astronomical and space research and exploration — Uwingu LLC (the company name is the Swahili word for sky).

Stern wants to donate 50 percent of all monies collected for pure research, making several projects each year possible as go-aheads that otherwise would have been relegated to the funding scrap heap. Astronomy is partnering with Stern on this effort, as are Ball Aerospace, XCor Aerospace, and the Moon Express mission.

To get started, Stern needs $75,000 seed money. He currently has about $33,000 and wants to raise the initial investment by September 15. e currently has about $30,000

To contribute to Uwingu, visit http://www.indiegogo.com/p/180221.

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