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Bellevue-based asteroid miners plan public space telescope

Planetary Resoruces

A company devoted to space exploration is planning to make an orbiting telescope available to students, scientists, and space enthusiasts.

Bellevue-based asteroid mining company Planetary Resourceshopes to eventually extract rare minerals from asteroids. But first the company must prospect, which will involve a fleet of space-based telescopes. Now the company has announced it will deploy an extra telescope for public use, paid for by a crowdfunding campaign on the website Kickstarter.

Co-Founders Peter Diamandis and Eric Anderson say it’s an effort to create a big public constituency for space exploration.

“Our goal is to democratize access to space, because this stuff has been for decades militarized and very expensive,” Diamandis said.

“Just think of this,” added Anderson. “We are putting a webcam on the shoulder of Christopher Columbus.”

The Kickstarter campaign aims to raise one million dollars. Prizes for donating range from a space “selfie,” where a camera will snap a picture of the donor’s face’s shown on the craft’s display with the earth in the background, to reserved time on the telescope for research, classroom activities or just for fun.

The well-funded company says the campaign is more about demonstrating demand than about raising money. The company plans to launch its first test vehicle next spring.

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.