It’s not everyday an astronaut hands you a treasure map from space, but that’s exactly what happened to treasure hunter Darrell Miklos.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life. I’m going to do it until I can’t do it anymore,” Miklos tells PEOPLE of his new quest. “I started watching my father in the industry and the excitement of it all. When I got a taste for what exploration and discovery was like, it never left my mind.”
Discovery Channel’s new docu-series Cooper’s Treasure follows the treasure hunter as he searches for a series of shipwrecks that the late NASA astronaut Gordon Cooper spotted from space.
“After having been close with Gordon and understanding that not only was he exploring space but also he was exploring the world in which we live and his passion for it, it just put more fire in me,” he continues. “Ever since then I was hooked. It was an addiction for me in a good way and I’ve been waiting for the right project to come around.”
Miklos has set out to uncover treasure aboard a series of shipwrecks—hundreds of them, thanks to Cooper who discovered a large amount of anomalies — he believed to be shipwrecks — during his space expedition. From there, Cooper created a treasure map and shared it with long-time friend Miklos before passing away in 2004 from heart failure.
“We are going to change history,” says Miklos. “Imagine if this stuff had never come to life? No one in those particular countries would’ve investigated these anomalies that Gordon found from space. It’s amazing this story. It needs to be told. People need to benefit from it.”
One thing Miklos wants to make clear is that everything he finds won’t be hoarded among he and his crew.
“I’m not there to find lots of treasure and to take it home and sell it off. I am there to share it with the host country,” he explains. “This is good for them. In most areas we are working with they are in a bad economic position and this could do nothing but help them. We share the proceeds of what we find with those host countries.”
“We share with each host country and they can use the proceeds for their museums or they can take the proceeds from what they sold off and build roads, infrastructures, and hospitals and spread education,” Miklos continues. “Otherwise it would just be there buried under the sand and no one would be able to tell the stories.”
From Coinage: The Most Expensive TV Shows of All Time
All in all, Miklos couldn’t be more excited to share this journey with the world.
“It will be both educational, inspirational and I get to highlight an American hero and the people that surrounded him in this industry of treasure hunting which has a stigma attached to it,” he says. “I hope to clean up the stigma attached to treasure hunters in general and do it right. I want people to know that we are not there to take away treasure and people’s history from them. We are there to share it in all aspects.”
“That’s what Gordon would of wanted,” he adds. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m the manager of his project and he put me in charge and I’m going to make sure I do it right.”
Cooper’s Treasure premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET on Discovery.