Last month, asteroid mining company Planetary Resources launched a Kickstarter campaign to put the world’s first public space telescope, ARKYD, into orbit. By June 30, the 33-day campaign had far surpassed its $1 million dollar goal: 17,600 backers pledged a total of $1,505,366, making ARKYD the most successful crowdfunding effort for a space project and one of the top 25 most successful campaigns in Kickstarter history.
Scheduled to launch in 2015, ARKYD will allow members of the public to explore space using technology previously only available to experts.
With the extra funding, Planetary Resources will be able to build a second ground station to double the return rate of the Space Selfie photography feature. The organization says it also plans to partner with Zooniverse to develop Asteroid Zoo, a platform that will allow the public to find asteroids at home and train computers to better find them in the future.
Planetary Resources also announced Sunday that Sir Richard Branson had joined its core group of investors, pledging $100,000 to the cause.