A posting on the official Namecoin forum reveals that Bitcoin mining pool Discus Fish has donated 20,000 Namecoins to developers to bring the Namecoin client in line with the current Bitcoin client developed by Vessenes' foundation. At present there is a Github repository where code committed to this effort so far is currently available.
Namecoin was the first credible fork of the Bitcoin codebase and remains one of the few altcoins of enduring interest. The Namecoin project was born out of a desire to expand the principles that laid the foundation for Bitcoin's success in reinventing money to doing the same for Domain and other name services. Namecoin was even early enough to get suggestions and code commits from Satoshi Nakamato himself.
Originally Namecoin was mined independently of Bitcoin, Namecoin soon came to be merged mined to leverage the power of the Bitcoin network for greater security. Namecoin through merged mining is accumulated by mining pools like Discus Fish, p2pool, and others. Mining pools and individual miners tend to frequently sell Namecoins at roughly the speed they mine them suppressing the price outside of speculative bubbles which makes registering a name in Namecoin's alternate DNS system an incredibly affordable proposition though at present such a registration would offer rather low exposure as the audience capable of resolving .bit domains is small.
Namecoin solving a different problem than Bitcoin has of course experienced different, perhaps more grave growing pains than Bitcoin could have tolerated. It is a far less mature technology, but a healthy well adopted implementation of Namecoin could be nearly as great of a boon for a free Internet as Bitcoin has been as a free medium of trade. Beyond it's primary use as an alternative to the current centralized Domain Name System projects as varied as torrent trackers and distributed identity management systems have been proposed, though these alternate uses have to date garnered less traction than even the minimal adoption Namecoin has enjoyed as an alternative DNS resolver.
Perhaps this donation from Discus Fish will help stimulate the development, testing, and refinement necessary to produce a Namecoin implementation that works as advertised with greater likelihood, but history provides reason to temper optimism. On the other hand the sustained existence of a market for Namecoin tokens offers cause a person could use to hold greater optimism for the future of Namecoin than they might have for other more recent Cryptocurrency 2.0 efforts that have received greater attention and funding recently.