Help Uwingu Make a Difference in Space

Uwingu, a small start-up company, wants to change the way science educators, astronomers, and space researchers do business.

Are you tired of seeing space research and education always being the victim of governmental budget battles? Would you like to see a change in space funding and increased funds for space exploration, science, and space education? UwinguTM, LLC was formed to effect just these kinds of changes.

Uwingu’s logo represents our goal of creating products that better connect people to the sky and space
Alan Stern
Uwingu is a small start-up company, a for-profit LLC, consisting of prominent astronomers, planetary scientists, former space program executives, and educators who passionately want to create a new, private-sector way to fund space exploration, space research, and space education. Among those on the Uwingu team are Pamela Gay, Geoff Marcy, Emily CoBabe-Ammann, Mark Sykes, Theresa Segura, Rick Fienberg, Andy Chaikin, Alisha McFarland, David
Grinspoon, and myself.

People often ask how Uwingu got its name. The answer is really simple. Because we want both our product sales and our impact on researchers and educators to be worldwide, we wanted to have a name that signified something beyond US borders. We chose Uwingu (pronounced, ‘oo-wing-oo’) because it is a very old Swahili name for the sky and because we liked its sound and symmetry.

We're planning a series of software products that will be hosted on the Uwingu web site to earn revenue. From that revenue we hope to create a new, private-sector funding stream of millions or even tens of millions of dollars annually for space projects of all kinds, which we call The Uwingu Fund.

The Uwingu Fund will provide grants to researchers, educators, and even mission teams who propose meritorious projects in any field of space exploration, space research, or space education. Uwingu has already announced their first project: funding the SETI Institute's Allen Telescope Array's science team. Uwingu will donate half of all "bonus" funds above its $75K business launch target to the ATA.

We expect to be funding individual research and education projects at first, but later we hope to expand that to whole project teams or even space mission teams. The interview below, hosted on Pamela Gay's Science Hour says a lot more about that, and what a great impact even small grants can have for students, teachers, and individual scientists. (Some technical difficulties delay the beginning of the video — go to the two-minute mark to see the interview):

Uwingu’s first apps are close to ready to debut on our web site, but before we can launch, the company needs to raise $75,000 in start-up funds to cover worldwide internet costs and other bills that will come with our first product launch. So Uwingu is conducting a crowdfunding campaign with IndieGoGo, a crowdfunding leader, to raise those funds. That campaign has already raised over $40,000 but it ends on Friday!

How can you help? Most importantly, you can consider sponsoring Uwingu’s start-up via our crowd-funding campaign.

You can also help by getting the word out about this campaign. How? By recommending this article and Uwingu sponsorship to friends and colleagues, by tweeting and posting about our campaign to your social networks like Facebook and Google+, or by writing a blog post about us.

To date, we’ve raised over $40,000 toward our goal. And although IndieGoGo will close Uwingu’s campaign page on Friday at midnight, according to IndieGoGo, most crowdfunding campaigns see a steep uptick in their final days. So we're optimistic we'll meet our goal!

News, Science and Space Policy
Alan Stern

About Alan Stern

Planetary scientist S. Alan Stern (Southwest Research Institute) is the Principal Investigator of NASA's New Horizons mission. He is writing a series of blogs for Sky & Telescope before and during the spacecraft's historic encounter with Pluto.