An effect of the commercial space revolution has been a resurgence of independent space-oriented projects. One of the latest efforts hopes to lower the costs of space travel using pulsed plasma jet thrusters.
A group of veteran scientists devoted to plasma physics research have banded together under the name HyperV with the intention of creating and launching an electric pulsed plasma jet thruster, eventually allowing for low cost interplanetary space transportation. Using this kind of electric propulsion would significantly reduce the mass and weight of spacecrafts, thus reducing fuel costs, resulting in more affordable missions. Although there are other types of electric propulsion systems that have been used for space travel, HyperV believes its solution will ultimately be cheaper and more robust.
And while the scientific aspects of the project are compelling, perhaps more exciting is the fact that the group is using Kickstarter to fund its efforts. Rather than trot the project around a battery of venture capitalists and governmental institutions, HyperV is calling for public support, and getting it. So far, the effort has garnered $42,000 of its $69,000 goal.
With just over 48 hours left, it's not certain that HyperV will reach its goal, but when such an ambitious, independent project devoted to space travel reaches over 60 percent of its goal in such a short time, it bodes very well for the future of humans in space.