Today is the official release of FreeSpaceShot.com, a free version of the online skill game launched last year by SpaceShot that awards free spaceflights to winners of its weather prediction game. The free version is funded through advertising, such as Google AdSense ads, and offers a wide range of prizes, from a zero-g flight and $2,250 scholarship to a trip for two around the Moon plus $100 million. (Needless to say, the former will be much less difficult to win than the latter.)
SpaceShot’s founder, Sam Dinkin, describes his thinking about the formation of FreeSpaceShot in an essay in this week’s issue of The Space Review. The ad-supported model is based, he said, on the “forced listening” technique used in radio contests. The focus here is on children, even though they might be too young to immediately take part in the flights, in order to both maintain their enthusiasm for space and perhaps rekindle the parents’ interest. (Another reason to keep parents interested and involved is to comply with federal regulations like the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule.)
FreeSpaceShot still has some rough edges to work out; I noticed this morning some dead links, including to the FAQ and a free lesson plan for those in grades 3-8. It also remains to be seen if children will find a competition like this worth playing on a regular basis, so that FreeSpaceShot can build up the traffic and advertising revenue needed to award the prizes.