The space-mining start-up Planetary Resources has managed to raise $1.5 million, which it intends to use to build a space telescope.
Asteroid mining is the future, says Planetary Resources, a start-up dedicated to launching the space mining industry. They have a very good point: Asteroids are rich in minerals and will often contain upwards of ten times the concentration of precious metals (e.g. Platinum and gold), as compared to what can be mined on Earth. In addition, there’s an almost endless supply of asteroids in the asteroid field between Mars and Jupiter. Unfortunately, mining asteroids isn’t easy. To help them prospect for the best rocks to drill, Planetary Resources is looking to build a telescope.
They’ve decided to build their telescope using crowd-funding, and thus opened a Kickstarter campaign on the 29th of May. Their goal was to raise $1 million, and swept by that goal after just 20 days. At the end of the campaign, they had managed to raise just over $1.5 million, with the final $100,000 being pledged by Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson on the last day of the campaign.
The money will be used to build a 15-kg pathfinder telescope called the Arkyd-100. To entice backers without deep pockets, those who pledge will be able to send a self-portrait to Planetary Resources. That picture will be loaded onto the Arkyd-100, and when in orbit, a screen will show the picture. A camera will then take photos of your self-portrait, against the backdrop of the Earth below. Just under 15,000 pictures will be going up with the Arkyd-100.
The Arkyd-100 will be among the first craft sent into orbit by the company, but before it is launched, Planetary Resources plans to send smaller Arkyd-3 craft into space. They will be doing this as early as 2014.