WASHINGTON — A European venture to send a small spacecraft to the moon is reconsidering its plans after an online fundraising effort fell fall short of its goal.
Moonspike started a month-long fundraising campaign on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter Oct. 1, seeking to raise at least 600,000 pounds ($925,000) to start work on a small spacecraft to crash-land on the moon and a launch vehicle to send it there. That funding, Moonspike's founders said in an interview prior the start of the campaign, would fund work on key spacecraft and launch vehicle subsystems.
However, the campaign ended Nov. 1 with less than 79,000 pounds ($122,000) raised. Kickstarter uses an "all-or-nothing" fundraising model, where projects receive money pledged only if the total value of the pledges meets or exceeds the project's goal. Since Moonspike fell short of its goal, it receives no funding.
Moonspike's founders said that they believed that crowdfunding was the only way they could raise the seed funding needed to start work on the project and build credibility. That would allow them to, in turn, raise more money in the future from venture capital firms or other more conventional investors.
"We don't have a Plan B. It is all or nothing," Chris Larmour, one of Moonspike's founders, said in a September interview. "I don't think it would be feasible to raise early-stage money in that degree for a project of this nature."
After the failure of their Kickstarter campaign, Moonspike does appear to be considering a Plan B. A company spokesman did not respond to a request for comment Nov. 2, but the company said in a brief statement on its website that it is "naturally very disappointed" that the fundraising campaign failed.
"We are going to spend some time reviewing our options and objectives, and then we will give an update about what this means for the Moonspike project in the future," the company stated.
Other ventures planning lunar missions have had more success using crowdfunding. Lunar Mission One, another British venture with plans to develop a large lunar lander, raised more than 670,000 pounds ($1.03 million) on Kickstarter, exceeding its goal by more than $100,000. SpaceIL, an Israeli team competing for the Google Lunar X Prize, raised nearly $285,000 earlier in 2014.
This story was provided by SpaceNews, dedicated to covering all aspects of the space industry.
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Jeff Foust is a Senior Staff Writer at SpaceNews, a space industry news magazine and website, where he writes about space policy, commercial spaceflight and other aerospace industry topics. Jeff has a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned a bachelor's degree in geophysics and planetary science from the California Institute of Technology. You can see Jeff's latest projects by following him on Twitter.