Bellevue-based asteroid mining company Planetary Resources is poised to launch the first crowd-funded, publicly-accessible orbiting telescope into space. The ARKYD, a cute brass cylinder that looks like the lovechild of R2-D2 and C3PO, would capture gorgeous shots of space stuff both within and without our solar system. It would also hunt for mineable asteroids and, if its Kickstarter funding reaches $2M, search for extrasolar planets.
With 17 days to go, the ARKYD has already garnered $890,000 in Kickstarter funds. Nearly ten percent of that sum was brought in by the ARKYD team's promise that a $25 pledge would buy the backer a "space selfie", an image of the backer beamed to a screen on the ARKYD's hull and photographed with Earth in the background.
The fact that Planetary Resources is crowdfunding this is almost as awesome as the fact that they're making it happen. Big congrats, neighbors!