Asteroid mining company wants to put your face in space

An ARKYD telescope orbiting Earth is shown in this artist's rendering handout image provided by Planetary Resources May 29, 2013. Planetary Resources/Handout via Reuters
An ARKYD telescope orbiting Earth is shown in this artist’s rendering. Credit: Planetary Resources/Reuters

A privately owned asteroid mining firm, backed in part by Google’s founders, launched a crowdfunding project this week to gauge public interest in a small space telescope that could serve as a backdrop for personal photographs, officials said.

Planetary Resources, based in Bellevue, Wash., plans to build and operate telescopes to hunt for asteroids orbiting near Earth and robotic spacecraft to mine them for precious metals, water and other materials.

It also plans an educational and outreach program to let students, museums, armchair astronomers and virtual travelers share use of a telescope through an initiative on Kickstarter, a website used to raise funds for creative projects.

Planetary Resources aims to raise $1 million by June 30 to assess public appetite for participating in a space project. It expects to launch its first telescope in 2015.

For a pledge of $25, participants can make use of a “space photo booth” by sending a picture to be displayed like a billboard on the side of the telescope with Earth in the background. Its image would then be snapped by a remote camera and transmitted back.

Starting at $200, participants can use the telescope to look at an astronomical object.

The Kickstarter campaign complements the company’s ongoing efforts to design and build its first telescope, called ARKYD. Investors include Google Chief Executive Larry Page and Chairman Eric Schmidt, as well as Ross Perot Jr., chairman of the real estate development firm Hillwood and The Perot Group.

“All we are asking is for the public to tell us that they want something,” company co-founder Eric Anderson told reporters during a webcast press conference Wednesday.

“We’re not going to spend our time and resources to do something if people don’t want it, and really the only way to prove that it’s something people want is to ask them for money,” he said.

Planetary Resources is not the first space startup to turn to crowdfunding. Colorado-based Golden Spike, which plans commercial human expeditions to the moon, has launched two initiatives on Indiegogo, another Internet-based funding platform.

Golden Spike exceeded a $75,000 goal to start a sister firm, called Uwingu, designed to funnel profits into space projects, but fell far short of a $240,000 target for spacesuits for Golden Spike’s first moon run.

Hyper-V Technologies of Virginia turned to Kickstarter to raise nearly $73,000 to help develop a plasma jet electric thruster. STAR Systems in Phoenix raised $20,000 for work on a hybrid rocket motor for its suborbital Hermes spaceplane.

Last year, Washington-based LiftPort ended an $8,000 Kickstarter campaign with more than $100,000 to demonstrate how robots could climb a 1.2-mile long tether held aloft by a large helium balloon.

The company is working on an alternative space transportation system called a “space elevator” that uses tethers or cables instead of rockets.

“I think crowd-funding is a new kind of bike and people are trying and willing to ride it, some successfully, some not as successfully, but I think it’s here to stay,” said Golden Spike founder and planetary scientist Alan Stern.

“These companies like Kickstarter and Indiegogo and RocketHub, they seem to be some kind of marketing distribution system that lets people with an idea put it out there. Previously people didn’t know how to do that except run an ad in a newspaper. It’s a capability we just didn’t have five years ago,” Stern said.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor pledges lower greenhouse gas emissions from New…

Just hours before the start of the People’s Climate March on Sunday, and two days ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit, Mayor Bill de…

National

The best places to see the Northern Lights…

A large solar storm hit the Earth's atmosphere and will tonight illuminate the skies with aurora borealis -- also known as the Northern Lights.

Local

Police officer killed Sunday morning Bronx crash, 8…

One NYPD police officer was killed and eight other officers were injured early Sunday morning when the van they were traveling in crashed  in the…

National

Pennsylvania police shooter manhunt near home of suspect's…

A police manhunt intensified on Friday for the gunman who killed an officer and wounded another in an ambush at a Pennsylvania police barracks a week ago.

Television

'How to Get Away with' mischaracterizing Shondra Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes read Alessandra Stanley's New York Times piece about her being "an angry black woman" and "a romance writer" and it did not sit well with her.

Gossip

New nude celebrity selfies leak … and Clay…

A new batch of nude selfies of Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens, Lake Bell and Avril Lavigne hit the web and Clay Aiken has something to say!

Television

James Spader's route to villainy on "The Blacklist"

In honor of the second season premiere of "The Blacklist" tonight, where James Spader plays good guy/bad guy Raymond “Red” Reddington, it’s a good time to look back at Spader’s…

Television

True Detective

NFL

Jay Cutler takes Marc Trestman's coaching to heart

While Jay Cutler turned to an autobiography on the man who would be his head coach, Trestman had personal experience with the player.

NFL

Jets vs. Bears: 3 things to watch

Jets fans likely chalked up Monday's matchup with the Bears as a loss when the NFL schedule came out. But given their team's play so…

NFL

Rashad Jennings carries Giants in first win this…

Rashad Jennings, who came to New York from Oakland last year, by way of Jacksonville, was highly coveted this offseason by general manager Jerry Reese.

NFL

3 things we learned as Giants pick up…

The Giants picked up their first win of the season over the Texans.

Career

Here's how to make the most of visit…

You’re primped, you’re looking polished, you’re prepared with a stack of resumes. Job fair hunters, unite! There are a few things to keep in mind…

Education

Learn how to study effectively and stop cramming…

Picture this: It’s midterm week, and college students everywhere are trying to frantically memorize all of the math formulas, political theories and historical facts that…

Parenting

How motherhood inspired Bethenny Frankel's new book

Bethenny Frankel's new children's book is about how her daughter and dog didn't always get alone.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.