With the world’s economy in a bit of a pickle, governments are finding it tough to justify spending a considerable chunk of their budgets on exploratory space missions that are solely designed to further our scientific knowledge, rather than generate income or food. This notion was briefly touched upon in Christopher Nolan’s space-themed thriller ‘Interstellar’, in which NASA becomes a faint shadow of itself after facing severe funding cuts.

Lunar Mission One, which was announced last week at the Royal Society in London, will be the UK’s first trip to the moon. It is reaching out to the public through the popular crowd-funding platform Kickstarter to generate the initial funds required for the development phase of the project. If they can secure the necessary $950,000 (£600,000), then the project can move forward and planning can begin.

The Lunar Mission One is an exploratory robotic mission that within the next ten years hopes to land a probe on the moon’s South Pole – an area unexplored by previous missions. The aim of the venture is to drill through the surface, reaching a depth of at least 20 meters, but perhaps as deep as 100 meters, and analyze the materials in the Moon’s crust.

This will allow access to lunar rock dating back to 4.5 billion years and unlock the geological composition of the moon, the ancient relationship it shares with our planet and the effects of asteroid bombardment. Ultimately, the project will improve scientific understanding of the early solar system, the formation of our planet and the moon, and the conditions that initiated life on Earth.

Furthermore, it should also inform us of the practicality of a permanent manned base at this area of the moon. Funding for scientific projects in general can be hard to come by these days. Currently the Kickstarter campaign has generated £327,924 from nearly 4,000 backers. The remainder of the money will be generated through the public sector and commercial backing.

More and more people are starting to take advantage of public funding, and are increasingly turning to crowd-sourcing giant Kickstarter to give neglected projects a much needed financial push. Crowd-funding is helping to clean up the ocean, turn roads into solar panels, and build floating laboratories, to name a few. And now, it could help fund an ambitious new mission to the moon!