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Surprising Science

Coming Soon: “A Space Telescope For Everyone”

Asteroid mining company Planetary Resources has announced a Kickstarter campaign designed to help fund the building and launch of a telescope that the public could use to observe objects in space.

What’s the Latest Development?

Planetary Resources, the private firm that seeks to make its money in asteroid mining, announced today (May 29) that it’s going to build and launch a telescope that can be used by students, scientists, and others to examine objects in space. It would be one of several in its Arkyd series, which will research asteroid targets for future mining missions. The company seeks partial funding for this “space telescope for everyone” through a Kickstarter campaign, also announced today, and will offer rewards based on contribution level. For example, US$150 lets the donor “point the telescope at any celestial object of their choice, other than the sun, and receive a digital copy of the photo it takes.”

What’s the Big Idea?

When Planetary Resources first announced its plan to mine asteroids in 2012, president Chris Lewicki wasn’t expecting the amount of enthusiastic public response it received. Reaching its $1 million goal on Kickstarter would demonstrate “an appropriate level of interest.” Lewicki says, “We’ll have a number of these spacecraft on orbit, and how much gets used for our work on asteroids is really dependent on the level of interest that people have to explore. We’ll be able to dedicate the better part of one spacecraft for this, and if there’s so much interest, we’ll build more.”

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