Dear B612 Foundation Supporters,

It seemed like a good time to update you all on our B612 Foundation progress this past year and on our big plans for 2012. As you know, we are an organization dedicated to ensuring the survival of humanity on this planet. Each day we gamble the future of civilization by not actively tracking all the asteroids that cross Earth’s orbit. Each century our planet runs a 1% risk of an asteroid impact of greater than 100 Megatons (i.e. at least five times all the munitions and bombs used in WWII including the atomic bombs). But it doesn’t have to be this way – for the first time in history we have the technology to find, track, and deflect if necessary threatening asteroids. Even more incredibly, space technology has advanced to the point that such a project can be carried out by a small group of dedicated individuals.

Realizing this, we started Project Sentinel to give Earth sufficient warning so that we can prevent catastrophic asteroid impacts on Earth. We have already made great progress. We now have a detailed plan to build an infrared telescope spacecraft that will within 5.5 years of operation catalog and track the vast majority of threatening asteroids. We have a fixed price bid from a spacecraft contractor, and are finalizing an agreement with NASA to provide communications and tracking services. The planned launch date is in 2016, with a flyby of Venus to enter the final observing orbit around the Sun from where it can continuously monitor Earth’s orbit. This will be the first privately financed and operated deep space mission, and will provide for the first time the big-picture view of the Solar System that we need in order to protect ourselves from cosmic catastrophe.

This year we have concentrated on building out our Sentinel technical team, and have assembled what is arguably the world’s finest spacecraft team, including the former Mars Czar (Scott Hubbard), the former Deputy of JPL and Mission Assurance Manager for the Cassini and Galileo programs (Tom Gavin), noted asteroid scientist Harold Reitsema, and have a contractor team lead by the former manager of the Kepler Space Telescope (John Troeltzsch). Amongst our scientific advisors are Freeman Dyson and Lord Martin Rees (Astronomer Royal). This is going to be an amazingly difficult technical challenge, but we have put together the very best team possible to carry it out. I know we can do this.

The costs of the Sentinel project will be high (several hundred million dollars), comparable to a multi-story building or other municipal civic project. But we believe that it is possible to raise this through philanthropic donations. If other organizations can raise enough money to build a new wing of an art museum, then why can’t we raise a similar amount to save the world?

In 2012, our major goals are to build out our fundraising team, to fill a few key positions on our technical team, to continue technical analysis of the mission design leading to a signed contract with our spacecraft manufacturer, and to secure our first anchor donor. By this time next year we should be able to begin actual construction of the Sentinel spacecraft.

To fund this work we must raise $4M. So as end of the year tax time approaches, please consider donating to the B612 Foundation. All contributions are tax deductible:
We also welcome contributions of your time for fundraising and outreach. Please contact me if you would like to get involved in saving the world!

Ed Lu
Chairman - B612 Foundation
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