Has Raised Over $1.5 Million To Launch World's First Crowdfunded Space Telescope
Asteroid mining company Planetary Resource successfully completed its crowdfunding campaign Saturday to launch ARKYD – the world's first public space telescope. Over the course of the 33-day campaign, the company generated support from more than 17,600 backers who pledged $1,505,366 for the cause. This marks the most successful crowdfunding effort for a space project and ranks the ARKYD campaign among the top 25 projects in Kickstarter history.
"We're excited that the first public-use orbiting space telescope, the ARKYD, is a go for launch. Because of the 17,000+ people who backed this project through our Kickstarter campaign, we're going to put a new tool for education and exploration into the hands of researchers, students and teachers," said Peter H. Diamandis, M.D., Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of Planetary Resources, Inc.
Planetary Resources also announced Saturday that Sir Richard Branson has joined its core group of investors. Branson, the Chairman of Virgin Group said, "I'm excited to be part of the Planetary Resources' team working on extracting precious minerals from near-Earth asteroids. The only way to truly explore our Solar System is to develop the technology and means to sustain our presence in space without depleting resources of Earth." In addition to his support of Planetary Resources' core mission to mine asteroids, Branson generously made his own campaign pledge of US$100,000 to back interactive programming to strengthen STEM education, thereby moving Planetary Resources closer to achieving multiple campaign stretch goals.
The ARKYD is planned for launch in 2015.
Nearly 16,000 campaign supporters will be among the first in the universe to take a "Space Selfie." Photos will be displayed on the satellite's external screen as it orbits the Earth. The ARKYD's camera arm will take a picture of each supporter's personal photo with the Earth in the backdrop and send the image back. This campaign has received the most money pledged for a photography project in Kickstarter history.
More than 2,000 campaign backers donated time on the ARKYD to education. Students from around the world, whether studying the Solar System in a 5th grade science classroom or writing a graduate thesis will be able to use the ARKYD to investigate the cosmos, search for potentially dangerous near-Earth asteroids, take photos of space and even make history with their own discovery.
The ARKYD will provide a new, low-cost resource to enable advanced exploration and research. In addition to access, the ARKYD will provide for organizations worldwide, nearly 150 backers will use the telescope to make their own discoveries, controlling it themselves to take pictures in space. An additional 40 of the highest-level pledgers will be invited to the spacecraft unveiling and rocket launch.
Chris Lewicki, President and Chief Engineer, Planetary Resources, Inc. said, "As the Flight Director for the NASA's Spirit and Opportunity Mars rover missions, and Mission Manager for the Mars Phoenix lander surface operations, I know first-hand the spectacular experience of exploring space. I'm incredibly excited to share this experience with students and citizen scientists everywhere."
(Image provided by Planetary Resources.)