In April 2011, funding issues forced the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute to suspend operations at their Allen Telescope Array in Hat Creek, California. This array allows the organization to scan the skies for possible extraterrestrial signals, so shutting it down was a hindrance to SETI’s search for extraterrestrial intelligence. But through a public fundraising campaign, funds were raised to bring the array back online in August 2011. And thanks to start-up company Uwingu, more money may be on its way.
Uwingu describes itself on crowdfunding platform IndieGogo as “a start-up planning to create cool new ways for space exploration, research, and education to be funded.” NBC News digital science editor Alan Boyle reports that Uwingu announced on Wednesday, August 29 that “half of any money it raises beyond the initial amount sought through its IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign would go to the SETI Institute to support its Allen Telescope Array.” According to Space.com, Uwingu “seeks to offer an alternative to the traditional avenues for space research funding, like NASA and the National Science Foundation, especially as these agencies face harsh budget cuts.”
It is interesting to see a new company pledging money before it has any of its own. Uwingu CEO Alan Stern recently stated, “We don’t have to wait to begin helping space research until we launch our first product, we’re starting now!” As of August 31, the company has reached more than $30,000 of its $75,000 goal.
SETI’s CEO Tom Pierson told AOL in August 2011 that the Allen Telescope Array costs $2,500,000 a year to operate, so any funding provided by Uwingu will most likely be appreciated.