Above is a textured mockup of an ARKYD partially funded by sponsors with demonstrated interest in space exploration. The base model itself was rendered and provided by Planetary Resources (see references and files below). This concept is not officially sanctioned by Planetary Resources. Sponsors for the most part would not be visible in selfies or of course during flight – but, could profit from worldwide exposure through pre-launch publicity.
The center image of Sagan is a misguided photoshopped alteration of the original photo of him holding Voyager’s plaque. If we do not accept advertising funded space exploration two things will happen: America will owe China more money and the Bank of China will advertise on Chinese spacecraft. I welcome the later but the former in an absence of advertising subsidies is inexcusable.
If searching for a cute character to draw, or an inspiring story to tell, consider the most endangered marine mammals in the world: vaquitas!
Swimming in a small reserve at the northern end of the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California, only 50 miles from the US border) vaquitas have never been hunted, their food sources are not over-fished, and locals and the Mexican government support efforts to preserve them.
The problem is they drown in cheap common nylon fishing nets — all the time. There are only a few hundred left, several dozen die annually. Their plight needs public attention desperately.
Fortunately they are the cutest creatures conceivable. The ‘desert porpoise’ is at the very heart of Mexico.
Proposals to prevent vaquita extinction include:
1) Extend the southern border of the Upper Gulf Biosphere Reserve to include their entire range.
2) Terminate all shrimp and gill net fishing in the Reserve.
3) Employ former fishermen from the Reserve in sustainable occupations. (This is not as difficult as it seems, the largest town on the banks of the reserve has a population of only 20,000 persons.)