ARKYD: The World’s First Publicly Accessible Space Telescope

Planetary Resources, an asteroid mining company, has launched an exciting new crowdfunding campaign to create the world’s first publicly accessible space telescope.

ARKYD, pronounced “ahrk-kid” according to its Kickstarter page, is a technologically advanced, orbiting space telescope. It has a large main optic, deployable solar panels, specialized communications antenna, an onboard screen, and a robotic arm, and is the size of carry-on suitcase. Chris Lewicki, President and Chief Engineer of Planetary Resources, introduced ARKYD as “an idea to bring space within reach of everyone.” This project has the potential to make everyone citizen astronomers and scientists by providing the opportunity to search for potentially hazardous asteroids, inspect our solar system, and examine distant galaxies.

Douglas King, President of The Museum of Flight in Seattle, had this to say about the project:

“If I could have a young person here, and say, ‘Would you like to take a picture of Mars with a telescope that’s in space now? Would you like to see what you can find that nobody else has found before?’ That gets somebody involved and excited about what they can do, not what someone else can do.”

The goals of this Kickstarter project are to give students access to space capabilities, support important research and discovery, build excitement about space, and to give the public a say by putting control of the telescope in your hands. The ARKYD space telescope will also be the first in a series of satellites that will serve Planetary Resource’s primary mission of exploring and mining resource rich asteroids by helping them to identify asteroids of interest. The Kickstarter campaign was launched on March 29 with a goal of raising $1 million. At the time of posting, the campaign has already received $705,304 in funding from 7,422 backers. The campaign will run until June 30 at 10 p.m. EDT.

The campaign’s goal of $1 million will fund the launch of the telescope, the creation of the user interface, campaign backer benefits, and educational curriculum for students everywhere. Backers can pledge anywhere for $1 to $10,000 for the campaign with backer benefits starting at the $10 level. Benefits include access to photos, videos, and updates on the telescope and project ($10); pointing the telescope at any celestial object and taking an image of it ($200); making science and technology come alive for a classroom with ARKYD: + 10 Main Optic Observations that will be directed by the teacher and students ($1,750); and an invitation to sign the telescope before launch and get an asteroid the telescope discovers after you ($10,000). Currently the most popular benefit is the digital space selfie, a picture from the backer that will be captured on the satellite with the Earth in the background ($25).

Jason Silva, ARKYD supporter and host of Brain Games, said the following about the project in the campaign’s video: “I think the ARKYD 100 project really kind of embodies this idea of human beings exploring the parameters of possibility. This is what we do, we are wonder junkies. Support the ARKYD 100 project.”

Watch the campaign video below to learn more about how Planetary Resources is inventing the future with you.

To find out more about the project or to donate, visit the Kickstarter page.