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Following an appeal on the website of the Allen Telescope Array project, named after its first financial backer, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, donations from more than 2,200 supporters – known as SETIStars – meant the institute easily reached its $200,000 initial fund-raising goal.
Among the contributors are Jodie Foster, the actress who played a SETI researcher in the movie "Contact"; science-fiction writer Larry Niven, creator of the "Ringworld" series of novels; and Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders, who flew around the moon in 1968. "It is absolutely irresponsible of the human race not to be searching for evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence," Anders wrote in a note accompanying his contribution.