I call it a mash-up of current cultural trends. You've got the 'space for everyone' bit, the resurgence of Doctor Who, and the sponsor-my-flight bit covered in my earlier list of Kickstarter satellites. If they'd just added "for everyone" to their kickstarter title, they'd hit 4 trends and have a homer.
In the past, all space missions were about science. Science needs to a) innovate, b) teach, and c) inspire. Most picosatellite people use space missions to develop technology or get data. My own Calliope plan is providing people with an intuitive feel for the rhythm of Sun-Earth interaction, filling the b) and c) categories.
The TARDIS team, who seem likely to secure their $33K funding, are putting up a TARDIS with flashing light because it's cool.
Space is not just for science. Space tourism is starting to take off, and as the Red Bull high altitude skydive stunt showed, it's ripe for advertising as well. This also means vanity projects and fan projects like the TARDIS are opening the frontier. For every pioneer setting up a ranch in the wilderness, there will be the singing cowboy along for inspiration.
What's key is _they all have to pay_. This is a good thing. Space is only cheap to get to if you've got a lot of things going there. The US and pretty much any country is never going to fund enough space and science research projects to make space exploration viable. That means you need economic incentives.
TARDIS are getting $33K to also let people put their own data into space, not to do anything, just to be there. Arkdy (the asteroid mining people) are getting $1mil to put up a satellite that lets people take 'selfies' in space. In fact, pretty much every Kickstarter satellite has a way to stamp your name or picture somewhere on the mission, if you put up the cash.
These are much like the 'send your name to Mars' engraved plates send on that other mission. It's a funding channel that is historically well represented. Churches let you name a pew if you pay and universities let you name entire buildings if you provide cash, so I'm generally pleased satellites are now use the benefactor tagging approach.
So you have your science and research work to move things forward, and everyone agrees those are worth doing (even if we don't agree they're worth funding). We've got industry-- asteroid mining, pharmaceuticals manufacturing, and similar-- that everyone agrees is "what we should be doing".
But you've also got to have tourism and advertisements and mad artists all paying for their own things, that may not be seen as useful or even 'right', but they get the dollars flowing in the right direction. So that's all right be me.
Until next time,
launching ProjectCalliope.com, ionosphere->music, 201?