World's first public space telescope gets Kickstarter goal

Marking the most successful Kickstarter campaign for a space project, Planetary Resources now has $1.5 million to launch its Arkyd telescope and bring asteroid, galaxy, and planet exploration to the public.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
Planetary Resources will soon launch its publicly accessible telescope into space. Planetary Resources

The tale of the Arkyd telescope is like that of the "little engine that could."

What seemed like a difficult task -- raising $1 million from a Kickstarter campaign to launch the world's first public space telescope -- was overcome on Monday as the crowdfunding goal was met with more than $1.5 million in pledges.

Not only did asteroid mining company Planetary Resources achieve its goal, it surpassed it, which means that the extra money can be used to add even more features to the telescope.

More than 17,600 people backed the Kickstarter campaign -- making the Arkyd telescope the most successful space project on the platform to date. The Arkyd now also ranks within the top 25 campaigns in all of Kickstarter's history.

Planetary Resources first launched its Kickstarter campaign in May publicizing its idea of sending the world's first publicly accessible telescope into outer space. The company's goal is to make space exploration available to anyone, from a fifth grader to a Ph.D. student to a NASA scientist. Besides learning from a series of educational and research applications, people can also have the chance to control the telescope.

"The crowdfunded Arkyd telescope is for the people," Planetary Resources co-founder Eric Anderson said in a statement. "Space exploration is now something that we all can actively join, not merely passively watch. People of every age and background will be able to explore and learn about the cosmos and make their own discoveries."

The Arkyd telescope will be a robotic spacecraft geared toward locating potentially dangerous asteroids. Planetary Resources also will look for asteroids suitable for prospecting and possible mining, since this is one of the company's central missions. Additionally, the telescope will be used to observe distant galaxies and search for alien planets.

Planetary Resources is planning to launch the Arkyd in 2015.