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Fri, May 31, 2013

World's First Crowdfunded Space Telescope Campaign Underway

Providing Access To An Advanced Space Telescope For Students, Scientists And A New Generation Of Citizen Explorers

Asteroid mining company Planetary Resources has launched a campaign for the world's first crowdfunded space telescope to provide unprecedented public access to space and place the most advanced exploration technology into the hands of students, scientists and a new generation of citizen explorers.

Planetary Resources' technical team, who worked on every recent U.S. Mars lander and rover, will provide direct access to an ARKYD space telescope making space widely available for inspiration, exploration and research. "I've operated rovers and landers on Mars, and now I can share that incredible experience with everyone. People of any age and background will be able to point the telescope outward to investigate our Solar System, deep space, or join us in our study of near-Earth asteroids," said Chris Lewicki, President and Chief Engineer, Planetary Resources, Inc.

Using Kickstarter, a platform for supporting innovative projects, Planetary Resources has set a campaign goal of $1 million. The company will use the proceeds to launch the telescope, fund the creation of the public interface, cover the fulfillment costs for all of the products and services listed in the pledge levels, and fund the immersive educational curriculum for students everywhere. Any proceeds raised beyond the goal will allow for more access to classrooms, museums and science centers, and additional use by individual Kickstarter backers.

Peter H. Diamandis, M.D., Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of Planetary Resources, Inc. said, "When we launched Planetary Resources last year, we had an extraordinary response from the general public. Tens of thousands of people contacted us and wanted to be involved. We are using this Kickstarter campaign as a mechanism to engage the community in a productive way." Diamandis added, "In the last 50 years, space exploration has been led by national governmental agencies with their own set of priorities; and now we're changing the nature of exploration. We're developing the most advanced space technology ever made available to the public.  Let's explore the cosmos together!"

Eric Anderson, Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of Planetary Resources, Inc. said, "Since the public announcement of Planetary Resources last April, the company has doubled in size, brought on key strategic partners, was awarded numerous contracts and is on track for its primary mission of identifying and prospecting asteroids within this decade."

For $25, the team will upload an image of the campaign backer's choice to display on the ARKYD, snap a photo of it with the Earth in the background, and transmit it to the backer. This space 'photo booth' allows anyone to take (or gift) a unique "Space Selfie" image that connects a personal moment with the cosmos in an unprecedented, yet tangible way. 

Higher pledge levels provide students, astronomers and researchers with access to the ARKYD main optic for detailed observations of the cosmos, galaxies, asteroids and our Solar System. At the highest levels, pledgers can offer the K-12 school, science center, university, or any interested group of their choice access to the ARKYD for use in interactive educational programming to strengthen STEM education worldwide. The full pledge list and ARKYD technical specifications can be found here.

Sara Seager, Ph.D., Professor of Physics and Planetary Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said, "The ARKYD crowdfunding campaign is extraordinary. Not only does the telescope have the technical capability to increase our understanding of space, but it can be placed in orbit for an incredibly low cost. That is an economic breakthrough that will accelerate space-based research now and in the future." 

Planetary Resources is joined in this adventure by a large group of campaign supporters including the Museum of Flight, Griffith Observatory, Liberty Science Center, Museum of Science and Industry, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Virgin Galactic and The Planetary Society. Bill Nye the Science Guy, CEO of The Planetary Society noted, "It's a fantastic convergence of spacecraft technology and crowdfunding. Students everywhere can get involved – around the world and now above the world."

The campaign will run for 33 days and end on June 30, 2013.  Detailed information regarding the campaign is available on the Kickstarter website.

(ARKYD telescope image captured from Kickstarter video)

FMI: www.planetaryresources.com


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