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Corning Inc. has donated $1.8 million in high-tech components for a telescope that a private group wants to launch into space. The not-for-profit BoldlyGo Institute wants to put its ASTRO-1 telescope in orbit by the mid-2020s. Obtaining the components for a roughly 6-foot telescope primary mirror will significantly contribute to the ambitious goal, the group said Tuesday in announcing the donation. The institute is beginning to raise cash and material for the project, which its CEO, Jon Morse, hopes will cost "well under" $1 billion.
The institute was formed last fall to increase the number and variety of space science mission through private funding. The ASTRO-1 space telescope would be used to study planets orbiting nearby stars, as well as the Milky Way and other galaxies. Morse said the telescope would have 10 times the field of view of the Hubble Space Telescope and could be used for exploration years from now when Hubble stops working well. The group, whose board includes members with links to NASA, also wants to fund a robotic mission to Mars.