If you can’t bring the people into space, then bring space to the people.
That’s the idea behind ARKYD, the world’s first crowd-funded space telescope. It’s like Hubble, except you get to use it. Admittedly, the images are not as hi-res as Hubble, but they’re pretty good for 1/1000th of the cost.
Planetary Resources, the company building ARKYD, figured they could make this dream a reality for about a million dollars. Rather than seeking out government funding, bank loans, or high-rolling investors, they went straight to the public.
And the public responded. In just one month, 17,000 people donated $1.5 million to the project on Kickstarter, leaving their original goal in the dust.
The expected launch date seems to be 2015. What happens then? Well, the ARKYD becomes available to astronomers, schools, and the general public. You can pick any celestial object, and the telescope handlers will take a photo and send it to you. Yes, there’s a fee, but we’re talking hundreds – not millions – of dollars. As the technology improves, prices will only go down.
This is what the space industry needs.
For too long, government institutions have been the sole gatekeepers of outer space. That’s not a criticism of NASA or the incredible work they’ve done. It’s simply reality. Government funding was a major bottleneck.
With the rise of private investment, space exploration will open up as never before. And not just in an economic sense. ARKYD is about recapturing the wonder of those early years, the time of Neil Armstrong and Yuri Gagarin. It’s about giving kids the power to look deep into the stars, just to see what they can find. Even if those “kids” happen to be 27 years old, like me.
I’ve already got my telescope time reserved. I can get a photo of anything I want: the Andromeda Galaxy, the moons of Neptune, anything. I haven’t decided yet. But whatever I pick, you can bet it’s going straight onto this blog.