The Organization for the Collaborative Exploration of Space (OCES) has one simple goal: to aggregate the collective knowledge and ingenuity of experts and amateurs around the world with the aim of carrying out missions throughout our solar system and beyond. Space exploration has been the exclusive territory of nation states since its inception. Only in the past decade has private industry started to make headway. But there is a third way. There is a way that does not rely on tax dollars and political wrangling, or on the concerns of shareholders. OCES will be structured as a not-for-profit entity, and will rely on donations and subscriptions for funding. Those funds will be used to develop mission plans, design and launch exploratory craft, and fund mission control and monitoring. The structure and finances of OCES will transparent. Every penny of income and expenditures will be public. All of the technological developments that come out of the projects will be open source.
Historically, the tremendous cost and the high level of expertise needed for space exploration meant that only technologically advanced and wealthy countries could maintain a successful space program. Often, the missions chosen were either curtailed or stymied by internal political battles. Projects that were years in development and millions of dollars in the making were canceled on a whim. In the new era of private space explorations, the missions are determined by what the market needs and what the market will pay for. These two models of funding have left generations of scientists and explorers at the mercy of either politics or commerce.
The initial phase of the OCES project will consist of building out the communications and funding infrastructure that will allow for truly collaborative research, design, and development. Our goal is not to simply raise awareness about space exploration. With the funding we receive, we will commission studies, design and build spacecraft, and explore our solar system. The technical knowledge and experience to implement and complete these missions already exists. What does not exist is a space agency solely dedicated to exploration that is not hindered by political or market concerns.
The funding model for OCES will be based on a month-to-month subscription model as well as utilizing text-to-give campaigns. Subscribers will have the option of adding a $10 a month fee to their cell phone bills, or have a recurring charge to a bank account or credit card. OCES is interested in small, regular donations from many, many people. For instance, the cost of a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa has been estimated at between $800 million and $1.2 billion dollars for the lifetime of the project. That seems like an unobtainable goal. If OCES is able to get 1.5 million worldwide subscribers, that goal could be reached within 6 years (for context, Netflix has 117 million monthly subscribers worldwide). Because of the relatively slow pace of these projects, all the funds would not be needed at once. OCES would be seeking subscribers from around the globe, not just in the United States and Europe. There is excitement and interest in space exploration. What OCES aims to do is give individuals a direct connection to exploration, to know that they are an integral part of something that will change human history.