Team Encounter

Team Encounter is a Houston-based aerospace company that is developing a solar sail powered spacecraft, called Earthview, and has been responsible for sending several interstellar radio messages (see CETI) to nearby stars from the Evpatoria Deep Space Center in the Ukraine. Earthview was originally scheduled for launch in 2001 but is now targeted to lift off in mid-2005 as a secondary payload on an Ariane V. On April 17, 2003, Team Encounter and NASA Langley Research Center signed a memorandum of agreement that will give the company ready access to NASA's expertise in lightweight spacecraft design. Team Encounter's solar sail program had already attracted the interest of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA paid Team Encounter $50,000 in 2002 for details of its spacecraft design and agreed in March 2003 to pay the company an additional $50,000 to investigate whether its solar sail demonstrator could be launched into a polar orbit of interest to meteorologists and other weather researchers. Team Encounter expects to launch a larger interstellar solar sail craft about 20 months after Earthview's debut. Tens of thousands of people around the world have already paid the company $25 to $75 apiece to send their digitized personal greetings and DNA to the stars aboard this ambitious mission.