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Send Your Own Pocket Spacecraft To Explore Moon

A crowd funded Kick-starter Pocket Spacecraft is offering ordinary people the opportunity to personalize and track their own tiny spacecrafts on a journey to the moon.

Pocket Spacecraft is hoping to raise about US$440,000 via its Kickstarter campaign to finance a mission that would send small polyimide discs called "Scouts" aboard a larger spacecraft, the Interplanetary CubeSat mother-ship, into space. Each disc is equipped with solar cells, a metal hoop that acts as an antenna, and sensors and instruments that adhere to its surface to keep it thin and light.

Some of the Scouts will make the initial journey aboard a commercial rocket and then be released into space to flutter back to Earth. The Interplanetary CubeSat mother-ship will head to the moon, where it will release and photograph the remaining Scouts.

For about $605, pledgers will be able to load their own software onto the spacecraft if they'd like, as well as earn access to the online Scout system  that will be tracking the journey.

By mid-day Tuesday, Pocket Spacecraft had raised about $16,531. The project has another 54 days to reach its monetary goal.

The initiative is part of a larger goal to help the average person connect to space exploration programs, said Michael Johnson, founder of Pocket Spacecraft.

"It was the realization that given the dramatic advances in technology and rocket launch opportunities, private individuals could fly their own spacecraft in space at a reasonable price if they could be made small and light enough, and that this could also make some science experiments that were previously too expensive possible. So it was a win-win," said Johnson.

The opportunity to send a message to the moon is part of that initiative, but it isn't simply a way to incentive to the investors, said Johnson. Adding a personal touch to the initiative can be an effective way to boost overall interest in space research, especially among younger generations.

"Giving children around the world the opportunity to hands-on design and fly spacecraft that they created themselves and keep track with their own Pocket Mission Control software could dramatically change how space exploration is perceived and done," he pointed out.

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