Asteroid mining firm to crowdfund first space telescope on Kickstarter

Planetary Resources plans to use Kickstarter to raise $1 million in the first crowdfunding campaign to offer backers a “space selfie” photo as an incentive.

The Seattle-based firm that is headed by Chris Lewicki, a former NASA engineer that oversaw Mars exploration rovers, counts movie maker James Cameron among its advisors, and the leadership of Google and the creator of Microsoft Word among its financial backers, is asking you to fork over at least $10 to help it mine valuable resources from asteroids.

For as little as $25, backers of the campaign will get their photo taken next to earth as the telescope orbits the globe. For higher levels of contribution, you can choose coordinates to point the telescope and take a photo or donate observation time and resources to a school for educational purposes. The highest incentive package costs $10,000 and includes your name engraved on the spacecraft.

Example of a “space selfie” that Planetary Resources offers to those who fund at least $25 for its Kickstarter campaign.

The Arkyd Telescope that will be funded by the Kickstarter campaign is small and simple as far as space telescopes go. It will have a 200 mm aperture f/4 lens, about the same as a decent SLR camera lens. The image sensor is rated at 5+ megapixels and it has image stabilization.

The crowdfunding campaign launch was off to a less than stellar start when a planned live Webcast didn’t start until late, and then broadcast with poor audio that couldn’t be heard. The social stream next to the Ustream video was full of complaints related to technical issues, most people saying they couldn’t hear anything. Others forgave the PR flub and said they were still optimistic about the company’s prospects in space.

Within an hour of launching, the Kickstarter campaign was able to attract more than $47,000 out of 337 backers. There are 32 days to go in the campaign.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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