If you’re a regular GFR reader, you have probably heard the name Planetary Resources. They’re the company, backed by folks like director James Cameron and Ross Perot Jr., that plans to begin mining asteroids a couple of years from now. It will be fascinating to see if they can really achieve their ambitious goals, but now they’ve announced another very cool project that you can be a part of: a space telescope that contributors will be able to use to photograph outer-space wonders or perform their own research.
The satellite will have a $1 million price tag and is targeted to launch in 2015, so Planetary Resources announced Wednesday that they will be opening the project up for crowdfunding donations. As with Kickstarter projects, the larger the donation, the more access you get to the telescope. A $200 donation will allow you to aim and take one picture with the telescope; for $450, you get three pictures.
While those prices might seem high compared the the entry-level donations for most crowdfunding projects, Planetary Resources co-founder Peter Diamandis hopes organizations such as schools and museums will take advantage of this program. Contributors can also choose to cede their time/photos to such organizations.
This crowdfunding approach is not being used for PR’s asteroid-mining plans, but Diamandis describes this telescope project is a way to build “a community who can go on this epic journey with us.” He adds, “Our goal is to democratize access to space.”
It’s an intriguing project, and we’ll likely see may experiments like this in coming decades as governmental space programs face increasing competition against and cooperation with private corporations attempting to push the boundaries of the final frontier. Some will succeed, some won’t, but it should be thrilling to watch either way.
You can find out more about Planetary Resources’ projects on their official website.