Asteroid Mining Company Puts Orbital Telescope On Kickstarter

A new crowdfunded space telescope promises ordinary citizens the ability to control the 'scope from Earth.
Planetary Resources engineers assemble an ARKYD 100 prototype. Planetary Resources on Kickstarter

If all goes as planned, you’ll soon be able to rent time on a space telescope, funded by individuals over the Internet. Private space company Planetary Resources is looking to crowdfund a telescope that it will then make available to funders, classrooms and visitors to museums such as the Museum of Flight in Seattle. Ordinary folks will be able to take control of the scope to snap cosmic photos, or beam their own images onto the telescope’s screen.

Planetary Resources is based in Washington state. The company’s primary mission is to develop the technology to mine minerals from asteroids, but this space telescope project is intended simply to make space science accessible to more people, according to the project’s Kickstarter page.

The telescope, called Arkyd 100, will be exceptionally small and light compared to bigwigs such as the Hubble Space Telescope. Nevertheless, it should be able to survey for near-Earth asteroids and take photos of features such as nearby galaxies, according to Planetary Resources.

The company hopes to raise $1 million by June 30. Planetary Resources engineers will build and maintain the Arkyd 100. Virgin Galactic, a private spaceflight company, will launch the telescope.

Those who contribute to the Kickstarter campaign are able to earn rewards such as selfies taken with the in-orbit Arkyd 100 or the ability to control what the telescope looks at for, say, 30 minutes. The delivery dates for the rewards suggest Planetary Resources plans to have Arkyd 100 up and running by August 2015.