I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Lewicki, President and Chief Engineer at Planetary Resources who has been an active leader in the ARKYD Kickstarter campaign.
Read our previous article to learn about the project if you haven’t already. Here’s an update on the campaign so far:
Planetary Resources is close to being halfway through the campaign, and they’re just shy of $900,000. Now that they’re close to reaching their goal of $1 million, they are beginning to announce their stretch goals: Planetary Resources is planning to extend the functionality of the current ARKYD and upgrading it with pointing systems that will allow them to hunt for extra solar planets or “Exoplanets” with alien life. With the campaign nearly halfway through and so close to being funded, the stretch goal certainly seems attainable. “We’re marching towards our goal and we feel really good about it” says Lewicki. So far, Chris and his team have seen lots of interest towards the beginning of the project, steady interest throughout, and hope to see a rush of interest towards the end.
“We’ve arranged the campaign so that everyone who pledges isn’t just helping something come into being, but they’re also getting something in return for themselves – whether it be a space selfie or access to the telescope” says Lewicki. The space selfies have been a major area of interest for backers.
In order to maintain interest, Planetary Resources has put on multiple events throughout the duration of the campaign project in terms of education and public engagement. Their most recent event was a live Google hangout which was quite successful. The team had the support of Brent Spiner from Star Trek who pledged $5,000 to be an Eduation Ambassador for his son’s school.
Contests have also been a very useful method for engaging people with the ARKYD. One of the contests included participants creating a photo or video that answered the question, “What does space mean to you?” for a chance to win cool prizes. Winners can get the opportunity to ride on the ZERO-G flight in order to experience true weightlessness, have a video of them featured on the telescope while in orbit, and many other awesome opportunities. You can check out the facebook page for further details on the contest. According to Lewicki, they’ve gotten a lot of creative submissions so far. In support for the ARKYD, a 1950′s style space animation called “Asteroids & You” was created by a community of artists named Atomic Gingers. “There are a lot of people interested in what we’re doing” said Chris on the success of the contests so far. “A lot of people have sent emails to us saying that they’ve never supported a Kickstarter before, but this one in particular caused them to want to sign up and contribute.”
The main campaign video has sparked interest in places all over the world and has been translated into about 10 different languages. “There’s going to be a surprise announcement of an epic translation too” says Lewicki.
As of now, the team is simply hoping to exceed their goal and spread the project as far as they can. “The more people are involved, the bigger this project can be and the wider we can share it” says Lewicki. Its not too late to contribute! Check out the kickstarter campaign to learn more.
Special thanks to Chris Lewicki for taking the time to interview with us for this special update!