Planetary Resources today announced a Kickstarter fund-raising campaign for its space telescope Arkyd.

Week Three: Ninth Anniversary Fund-Raising Drive for Behind the Black

It is now the third week in my annual anniversary fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black.

Please consider donating. I am trying to avoid advertising on this website, but will be forced to add it if I do not get enough support from my readers. You can give a one-time contribution, from $5 to $100, or a regular subscription for as little as $2 per month. Your support will be deeply appreciated, and will allow me to continue to report on science and culture freely.

Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

Planetary Resources today announced a Kickstarter fund-raising campaign for its space telescope Arkyd.

Forgive me if I am less than enthusiastic about this. Supposedly Planetary Resources had big money backing from a lot of wealthy people, including some Silicon Valley Google billionaires. Why then do they need this campaign? It makes me suspect that the company is an emperor with no clothes.



  • A million dollars should be chump change for the backers they supposedly have – maybe some backed out since their original announcement. While this Kickstarter campaign seems to be for a single scope to be used by the public, it’s very odd that this would come about well before they have anything more directly financed in orbit.

  • Maybe their backers just have no interest in educational outreach.

    I know that if I was an investor in this company I’d be asking why they’re wasting their time with it.

  • Thankfully I’m not.. so I pledged $100.

  • wodun

    Kickstarter is very trendy these days. It could have more to do with pr than a lack of funds.

  • A bit of both actually. While I’m sure Planetary Resources could have gone door knocking to find 100 folks willing to donate $10,000 to providing space telescope access to classrooms, it wouldn’t have nearly the same impact.

  • Tom Billings

    I vote for describing it as “participatory propaganda”.

    This can be used for good and for bad.

    In WW2, it gave people in the continental US a feeling that they were helping the war effort when they went without sugar, or tires on the car, or meat on one day a week, etc.

    Today it makes people invest emotionally in environmental politics, when they teach their children how to separate their garbage into different containers for newspapers, plastics, yard debris, etc.

    Not least, it could be used as the “thin edge of the wedge” to get respectability for incrementally increasingly costly space projects funded by Kickstarter, by smaller companies, who can grow up to be orbital customers for Planetary Resources.

  • This could also be a form of market research to gauge the level of public interest and get some diverse user experience. It would be interesting to know the cost of building and launching this public access space telescope. I suspect that even without counting development cost, it will cost over a million dollars to deliver on their promises.

  • About $10M I’m told.. and that’s just the marginal cost of this educational outreach telescope.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *