Planetary Resources – the people behind the recently announced asteroid-mining venture – has just announced a brand new project: the world's first crowdfunded space telescope, to be financed with a just-launched Kickstarter campaign.
The company's primary goal has always been, and remains, asteroid mining; and to that end, it's developing a class of asteroid-surveying space telescopes it calls ARKYD. But Planetary Resources says it wants to engage in another of its passions: making space exploration accessible to everyone. How? By selling the public its very own ARKYD. From the ebullient announcement posted on the company's website earlier this afternoon (emphasis theirs):
The ARKYD is a technologically advanced, orbiting space telescope that will be controlled by YOU, the crowd, through your pledges and community involvement! You can even direct your telescope time to non-profit science centers and universities for use in your communities!
Just think about the true impact of this endeavor for a moment. Together we can put technology that costs tens of millions of dollars into the hands of students, scientists and a new generation of explorers, who will use it in ways we can’t even fathom yet!
At Planetary Resources, our primary focus is mining asteroids, and we’re pushing the boundaries of what is possible by vertically integrating and applying innovations from consumer-based industries. It’s our goal to reduce the cost of space observatories many times over, allowing anyone to access them for their own use. We want to empower the crowd to solve the big problems of our time — and this is the first step to making that a reality.
In the last few hours, Planetary Resources has managed to raise over $129,000 of its $1,000,000 goal. With more than a month left to go, we think it's safe to call this Kickstarter a success. Meanwhile, the campaign is attracting a lot of positive attention. Bad Astronomer Phil Plait has a great overview of the project's exploratory and educational potential and its viability as a publicly funded science mission (Plait says his personal opinion is that the Kickstarter is " a legit effort"). Also on board with the ARKYD is Bill Nye. Here, The Science Guy himself joins Planetary Resources CEO Peter Diamandis in singing the project's praises:
For more info, visit Planetary Resources' ARKYD Kickstarter page.