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Asteroid Mining Update from the Factory Floor

Arkyd-100 series - the Leo Space Telescope. Credit Planetary Resources

The private space group – Planetary Resources – headquartered near Seattle, Washington is pushing forward on its Arkyd-100 – the firm’s space telescope and technology demonstrator for their Arkyd series of asteroid prospecting missions.

The Arkyd-100 series is the group’s first commercial spacecraft capable of venturing into deep space. Dubbed as the Leo Space Telescope, it is the first Arkyd Series 100 product.

This craft is meant to provide the company with the core spacecraft technologies necessary for asteroid prospecting while creating the first space telescope within reach of the private citizen.

“Our Arkyd-100 is daringly small, and this cuts the cost of deep space missions below anything we’ve become accustomed to,” said aerospace engineer, Chris Lewicki, President and “Chief Asteroid Miner” at Planetary Resources.

“Our engineering team is packing tremendous capability into this small package, and this will give us more launch opportunities to get our spacecraft where they need to go in the Solar System,” Lewicki noted in a company statement.

Optical communications

Lewicki said that there’s a lot packed into the nearly 25 pound (11 kilogram) Arkyd-100, from its deployable solar arrays, to the integrated avionics bay, and an instrument and sensor package at the back of the comparatively large optical assembly that dominates the volume of the spacecraft.

Not only does the Arkyd-100 optic capture imagery under a wide range of wavelengths and intensity levels, Lewicki added, but the craft is designed to use laser communications.

“This innovation expands our options beyond the large dishes of the deep space network that have been used to date, as those aren’t easily scalable for our commercial use. Our small size, weight and power won’t accommodate typical deep space communications technology – which is often larger than our entire spacecraft. We’re not the only ones interested in optical communications…we’re under contract to help develop it for NASA as well,” Lewicki said.

NOTE: For a Lewicki update via YouTube, go to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2xkM80kdXkg#!

Also, for more information on the mission of Planetary Resources, go to:

http://www.planetaryresources.com/mission/

By Leonard David

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