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Planetary Resources focuses on Earth imaging

Image: Planetary Resources clean room
Planetary Resources’ Chris Lewicki and GeekWire’s Alan Boyle mug for the camera behind two Arkyd 6 satellites being tested for flight in Planetary Resources’ clean room. (GeekWire photo by Kevin Lisota)

REDMOND, Wash. – Planetary Resources was founded as an asteroid mining company, but a fresh infusion of $21.1 million in investment puts the emphasis on a space frontier that’s closer to home: Earth observation.

“It leverages everything that we have been working on for the last several years … and it moves us forward in the direction of asteroid prospecting,” Planetary Resources’ president and CEO, Chris Lewicki, said this week during a tour of the company’s Redmond headquarters.

The Series A funding announced today will be used to deploy and operate Planetary Resources’ Earth observation program,known as Ceres. The lead investor is the OS Fund, founded by Los Angeles venture capitalist Bryan Johnson. Other investors include Idea Bulb Ventures, Vast Ventures, Grishin Robotics, Conversion Capital, the Seraph Group, Space Angels Network and Google co-founder Larry Page.

In a statement, Johnson said Ceres will represent “a seismic shift for the new space economy.”

Planetary Resources also announced it would be shutting down what was once a wildly popular Kickstarter project that would have enabled backers to take “space selfie” pictures with the company’s space telescopes. Lewicki said all 17,614 backers would be offered full refunds.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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