The BoldlyGo Institute and several other institutions are supporting Project Blue, a private initiative to develop a space telescope specialized to look for habitable planets around other stars. The Project has opened a crowd-funding campaign to pay for the design of the spacecraft: Project Blue: A Telescope to Find Habitable Worlds | Indiegogo 

Our generation has a unique opportunity to discover Earthlike planets around other stars, and Project Blue could make this breakthrough. We’re creating detailed plans for the spacecraft, and we want you to be a part of advancing our mission to the Launchpad!

We believe a sister Earth could exist not too far from the place we call home and, thanks to recent breakthroughs, the technology now exists to find out. We at Project Blue aim to search the Alpha Centauri system for planets like Earth, and we want your help to launch our engineering design effort, like creating blueprints for a house before construction begins. We are looking to raise $175,000 to complete this engineering phase and to establish our industry partnerships. And we want to get you involved in the mission right at the start so that, together, we can all take a bold leap into shaping humanity’s future!

The observatory would be much smaller, and much cheaper, than the Hubble or similar big science spacecraft:

Project Blue is a space telescope mission that seeks to find and photograph a habitable world, another Earthlike planet where life can potentially thrive. Our goal is simple — to build & launch a telescope so powerful it can detect a blue planet in the nearby Alpha Centauri star system. Thanks to recent technological innovations, our telescope is small enough to fit on a coffee table, but powerful enough to pick up a planet over a billion times dimmer than its star — from four light years away! With this telescope we aim to take the first ever optical image of a potentially habitable exoplanet, and the team hopes that the results will show a ‘pale blue dot’ similar to the famous photo of Earth taken by the Voyager probe.

With sufficient public support, the spacecraft could go into orbit by 2023: