A father-daughter duo is putting a functioning, photo-taking TARDIS into orbit to mark the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who.
I know just enough about Doctor Who to say “time and relative dimensions in space” (while covering the moon with a dime, of course) with sufficient authority to impress small children who don’t have the nerve to call me on it. That puts me several leagues below the 3 Stags team, “a production company specializing in small and micro-budget projects for film, television, and the interweb machine,” that’s wrapping up a very successful Kickstarter to put a TARDIS into orbit.
This particular TARDIS isn’t full-scale – it’s relatively tiny, in fact, standing just one foot tall because of payload limitations on the rocket that will put it in orbit. But it does have a functioning blue light on top and a GoPro Hero 3 camera that will snap photos of our planet, both running on batteries recharged by solar cells in the windows, and it will be in actual, low-Earth orbit, sharing space with “real” satellites and the International Space Station.
The satellite has already been built out of very lightweight aluminum with a “passive attitude control system,” which as the Kickstarter video explains means it uses magnets to maintain its position in orbit. The Kickstarter campaign is to cover the cost of launching it into space on a commercial rocket, which for a satellite of this size and weight runs $33,000. It’s actually kind of amazing to think that a privately-built satellite can be put into orbit for less than the cost of a reasonably well-equipped American car these days, but it’s still a big pile of money.
Fortunately for those who want to see this happen, the power of fandom has come through, and with four days still on the clock the Kickstarter is approaching double its goal. Among the rewards given to backers is an allocation of space on an SSD that will carry your name and any message you care to include into space, where it will remain until the end of time. (Or at least until something bad happens to the satellite.) If the stretch goal of $66,000 is hit – doubling the original goal – drive space allocations will be increased.
I’m no die-hard Doctor Who fan but I think this is a smashing idea, and I really hope it succeeds. If you want to get in on the action, score a groovy t-shirt or maybe put a picture of your cat into orbit, the “We’re putting a TARDIS into orbit” Kickstarter runs until June 29.