Reminder: Uwingu enters final week

By Phil Plait | September 11, 2012 11:00 am

Uwingu is an interesting idea: an effort by space scientists to fund space exploration and research using a for-profit basis. I’ve written about them before (please click that for details and info) and trust the people involved enough to promote them even though some details are yet to be revealed. I’ll note they’ve asked me to participate in the group in some functions, which I wouldn’t do if I didn’t trust them!

They need to raise $75,000 as a start-up base to do a lot of the work they’re planning, and the campaign is in its last week; it ends Friday. If you’d like to contribute and be a part of this, please do so!

They’ve been able to gather some big name companies, like Planetary Resources – the group planning on mining asteroids – and they’ve announced the first project they’ll fund is SETI’s Allen Telescope Array, a project in critical need of cash if it’s to keep going.

I think Uwingu is a fascinating idea, and I’m glad to be a part of it. I hope you’ll be a part of it too.


Comments (15)

  1. Chris

    Damn, I gave all my money to the Tesla museum.

  2. Mark Pearl

    I am not certain I understand the logic of giving money to this uwingu outfit so that they can keep a chunk as profit and give what is leftover to SETI (or other projects). Why shouldn’t I just give my money directly to SETI and avoid this uwingu middleman? They don’t even tell you what they will do with the money they are asking for.

  3. Chris

    Why haven’t you posted about the giant alien spaceship that just crashed into Jupter?

  4. Chris

    @2 Chris (not me)
    Shhh, you’re not supposed to know about that.

  5. David C.

    I made 3 donations, totalling 100, more than I can afford on pension, and when this campaign is over, hope to give more come October, and keep supporting this effort; and if all you think this is about is SETI, then you really haven’t looked into it very deeply have you,

    btw, you guys are a great advertisement for birth control ;D

    Cheers Phil, I’m proud to support Uwingo

    ps I also support several other charities with small monthly contributions, as Mohammed Nabus said, “what we do for ourselves dies with us, what we do for others is immortal”

  6. Keith Hearn

    I’m afraid I’m in the same boat as Mark Pearl. They say they’re going to make millions, but they won’t say what they’re going to actually do. This group of “astronomers, planetary scientists, former space program executives, and educators” (not entrepreneurs or businesspeople) are going to start with $70K and turn it into millions by doing ???. It’s got about as much substance as homeopathy.
    Call me a skeptic, but I want to know a little more before I give anyone my money.

  7. Chris

    I do trust that they’ll use the money wisely and not to pimp their telescope, but it would be nice to see a business plan on projections, funding sources, what the start up capital would be used for…

    We are planning a series of projects that will earn revenue to generate a new, private sector funding stream of millions or even tens of millions of dollars annually…

    For all we know they’ll be selling cupcakes and using the profits to fund research.

    Phil’s previous post says The idea is to create space-related products the public will like such as games, software, and merchandise.

    OK, but still it’d be nice to see what they are planning. Scientists aren’t always the best advertisers and marketers.

  8. josie

    @Keith and Mark– After clicking on one of the links it appears that Uwingo will take the money you donate/invest in them and make marketable products with a space science theme. From profits of the sale of these items they will fund peer reviewed science. I can only assume that the marketing of their products and the products themselves are intended as a means to increase awareness and appreciation for space science. Sounds interesting to me.

    @David– you’re dumping more than you can afford into a high risk investment and thereby putting your financial well-being in jeopardy and you say the other folks commenting are a great advertisement for birth control?

  9. David C.

    @ 8. josie I have given much thought to how to reply, so here it is; hope you come back to see it;


    This is not about Wall Street investments or return on that investment; if that were the case I should have put my money in SpaceX or Bigelow, not that they need it; it’s not just an open source operating system, it’s a way of life;

    it’s about the border patrol employee, who during the day turns back people from Zimbabwe, from entering South Africa, and then at night going to the camps of those that got across through the bush, and gives out food and clothing;

    it’s about helping an old woman take her cat to the vet, and then paying for the medication and finally the euthanasia for a beloved pet, she can’t afford to pay for; then holding her while she cries her heart out;

    it’s about being disabled, sitting on a crowded bus, when a very pregnant woman who obviously can’t speak English, moves to the back, and two female college students pointedly ignore her, don’t give up the seat between them, that holds their back packs, that you get up, and give up your seat, to the pregnant lady, then turn to the girls and say, Well ladies, would you PLEASE move your bags, so I might sit; then sit between them, and apologize for disrupting their conversation, and ask if they would like to sit together; teaching them a valuable life lesson in sharing;

    UBUNTU is a lot of things, but primarily it is HUMANITY HELPING HUMANITY THROUGH THE TRIALS OF LIVING; and in the case of Uwingo, it is helping science advance through private funding rather than government tax dollars; it may flop disastrously, or it may be the big surprise of the century; whatever, it is worth doing, because the alternative is doing nothing, and humanity is the big looser;

    on any given month 15 to 30 percent of my pension goes out to others in one way or another; I’m turning 65 and learnt early in life, in England, first hand about living for others and living well on little, while on rationing, and I have never forgot that lesson;

    The internet comments sections, are full of useless comments by people who should know better; my birth control comment was directed at those 4 first commentators, who chose to show their ignorance rather than their humanity; I have not had an easy life, and I do not suffer fools gladly;

    @ Mark Pearl and Keith Hearn
    the X Prize foundation started as a wacky idea, with no money, now see where it is; from small seeds, great trees grow; don’t despise small beginnings; while not every seed becomes a great tree, and not every idea becomes an advance in civilization, enough do to become forests and our societies strengths; if you so poor you can’t afford 10 dollars on a long shot, then I feel for you;

  10. Andreas

    Kickstarter need to get a science category.

    I think they should have done this funding on Kickstarter, or maybe both. Very few in the mainstream community have heard about idiegogo.

    This Space Elevator Science project on Kickstarter is a good example of a very successful funding campaign:

    Anyways.. They have my support :)

  11. Mark Pearl

    I think that crowdfunding is a great idea but the uwingo people provide no idea what they need the money for. And as was noted above they do not seem to have any business people on their team and if you read their comments on funding SETI, they will only do that if they get more than the $70,0000 that they need and then they will only give half of the amount over that to SETI. What happens to the rest of the money? Salaries for the astronomers who run unwingo? Makes far more sense to simply give your money directly to the SETI folks where it will do the best good without lining someone’s pockets.

  12. How is Jupiter doing after the impact?
    Sudden death from their skies and not a word from our Beloved Specialist…
    Don´t tell me he was there and became a casualty.

  13. Keith Hearn

    It’s not that I don’t trust the intentions of the people running Uwingu. I don’t know them, but Phil does, and I’m willing to trust his judgment that they are dedicated to advancing science. I believe that if they make a profit, they’ll do as they say and use it to fund good projects. But I’m not too sure that one can turn $70K into millions or 10s of millions by selling unspecified space-related games and merchandise. The JPL store sells space-related stuff, and I somehow suspect they aren’t pulling in millions. What makes Uwingu think they can do it? Have they done market research that indicates there is that much of an untapped market?

    I’ve read that they’re keeping their product under wraps to “build up anticipation”. But the time to get people excited about the product is now. Now is when they need to get people onboard. Look at any successful kickstarter campaign. If you’ve got a million dollar idea, people will throw money at you. But you’ve got to tell them what the product is, not just say “we have good intentions, give us money.”

  14. Mark Pearl

    If you do some searching you can find or that say that uwingu registered a trademark for “providing a website featuring online technology that enables users to name both features on the surfaces of bodies in the solar system and solar system bodies themselves”. So are they going to charge people for naming things like asteroids or comets? I thought that this was the job of some international astronomy organisation. Aren’t there some companies that let you name stars already?

  15. Mark Pearl

    After the mysterious uwingu campaign was obviously failing to reach its goal, they’ve just shifted the deadline 10 days – as if no one would notice.


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