NASA Outlines Asteroid Redirect Mission in Images, Video

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WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Part of President Obama’s FY 2014 budget request for NASA, the asteroid initiative capitalizes on activities across the agency’s human exploration, space technology and science efforts. NASA is enhancing its ongoing efforts to identify and characterize near-Earth objects for scientific investigation, and to find potentially hazardous asteroids and targets appropriate for capture.

This conceptual image shows NASA’s Orion spacecraft approaching the robotic asteroid capture vehicle. The trip from Earth to the captured asteroid will take Orion and its two-person crew an estimated nine days. (Credit: NASA)

This conceptual image shows NASA’s Orion spacecraft approaching the robotic asteroid capture vehicle. The trip from Earth to the captured asteroid will take Orion and its two-person crew an estimated nine days. (Credit: NASA)

The agency is creating an asteroid mission baseline concept to develop further in 2014 to help engineers establish more details about the mission. Meanwhile, engineers and scientists across the agency continue to evaluate several alternatives, as well as ideas from the public, for consideration throughout mission planning.

The asteroid initiative will incorporate advanced solar electric propulsion technology as a power source for spacecraft, offering greater flexibility to the spacecraft and mission planners. The mission also leverages the agency’s progress on the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft and other cutting-edge technology developments.

In this conceptual image, the two-person crew uses a translation boom to travel from the Orion spacecraft to the captured asteroid during a spacewalk. (Credit: NASA)

In this conceptual image, the two-person crew uses a translation boom to travel from the Orion spacecraft to the captured asteroid during a spacewalk. (Credit: NASA)

In late July, NASA conducted its asteroid mission formulation review, which brought together agency leaders from across the country to examine internal studies proposing multiple concepts and alternatives for each phase of the mission, and assessed technical and programmatic aspects of the mission. Currently, NASA is assessing the more than 400 responses received to a request for information in which industry, universities and the public offered ideas for the initiative.

The agency will host a technical workshop at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 to discuss those responses and the potential for ideas from them to be incorporated into the mission concept. Virtual participation will be available to the public. Participation details will be provided prior to the event.

This concept image shows an astronaut preparing to take samples from the captured asteroid after it has been relocated to a stable orbit in the Earth-moon system. Hundreds of rings are affixed to the asteroid capture bag, helping the astronaut carefully navigate the surface. (Credit: NASA)

This concept image shows an astronaut preparing to take samples from the captured asteroid after it has been relocated to a stable orbit in the Earth-moon system. Hundreds of rings are affixed to the asteroid capture bag, helping the astronaut carefully navigate the surface. (Credit: NASA)

The full image gallery can be viewed at:

http://go.nasa.gov/19A67iI

  • Team Omega Envoy

    This is awesome! Asteroid mining has such tremendous potential, if only the program could get started. After years of being toyed with, it’s refreshing to see the idea finally get fleshed out and exposed to the public.

  • mfck

    I guess teh drama of the soundtrack is about SLS lifting off, eh?

  • Kapitalist

    I’m afraid that the outragous cost of SLS+Orion makes any kind of mining using this kind of concept hopelessly unprofitable. And then some:

    - The SEP (solar electric propulsion) is way too weak for redirecting any asteroid large enough to be worthwhile mining.

    - And for any worthwhile diverting for planetary defence reasons (the proposed size meteoroid would only be a nice flash in the sky, far smaller than the Chelyabinsk bolide).

    - Also the bagging procedure is too unreliable for any useful purpose.

    - Scientific value is random because asteroids are likely very diverse since they formed from many different processes in many different ages in many different parts of the solar system. Knowing one well says nothing about the population. Knowing a small one well says nothing about large ones. We need to instead robotically visit many large one.

    - Sending astronauts to Lunar orbit again 70 years after the first time, does not contribute to useful human space flight competence.

    If ARM were a tiny part of a huge space program, then fine. But as *the* human space flight vision of our time, it is not good enough. It will reduce NASA to a second rate space agency. Skilled people inspired by space exploration will look for other kinds of employement.