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

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.