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It also wants to redirect large asteroids that may harm Earth

NASA is planning to capture both large and small asteroids for the purpose of studying them -- and also redirecting them if they happen to threaten mankind.

NASA's fiscal year 2014 budget proposal talks about catching near-Earth asteroids robotically and sending them to orbit in the Earth-moon system. That way, astronauts can safely travel to the asteroids and explore them.

According to this initiative, it will use both current and developing technology to move large, hazardous asteroids away from Earth and capture the smaller ones for exploration. Some of the current technology that will be used includes the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft.


NASA is preparing for an asteroid landing in other ways too, such as simulating the environment for astronauts. For instance, the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) launched 15 simulated asteroid missions in 2011 and 16 in 2012. These missions simulated various challenges astronauts would face when visiting an asteroid, such as how to collect samples, anchor to it and move around the surface.

Last week, The Space Studies Board and the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board held a joint meeting in Washington to discuss the future goals of human space exploration. The parties seemed torn between continuing on with an asteroid landing or planning another trip to the moon.

Al Carnesale of UCLA said there wasn't much enthusiasm for an asteroid landing since its initial announcement three years ago, but NASA Administrator Charles Bolden disagreed. 

“NASA will not take the lead on a human lunar mission. NASA is not going to the Moon with a human as a primary project probably in my lifetime," said Bolden. "And the reason is, we can only do so many things.”

Bolden believes NASA should stick to the plan of sending humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars by 2030. 

Source: Science Daily



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RE: What a load of crap
By mjv.theory on 4/12/2013 2:54:26 PM , Rating: 2
Problem is that NASA have been forced to spend most of their budget on the Orion spacecraft (read: Boeing profits increasing project) and the Senate Launch System. Given the choice between $11 Billion to incumbent contractors for the SLS for 70 tonne lift capability at $1 Billion per flight and paying SpaceX $2.5 Billion for 140 tonne lift capability and $300 Million per flight they would probably have taken the latter choice. At the very least they would have pursued a technically better and more fiscally responsible design.

I'm all in favour of aiming for Mars and then coming back to the Moon later. Considering the effort required, the Moon doesn't really offer much in the way of a step towards further exploration, although it may be worthy of exploration in its own right. The only real advantages for the Moon are negligible comms delay and possibly reduced radiation risk. Going to an asteroid is basically "the only thing we can afford" option.

Just to put the cost of a 70 tonne lift SLS into perspective, for $11 Billion for SLS is equivalent to over 100 Falcon Heavy flights at 53+ tonnes each lifting 5300 tonnes to LEO, or Mars sample return, Moon missions, fuel depots, etc.. Without SLS, NASA has many options, with SLS it has very few.


RE: What a load of crap
By othercents on 4/12/2013 3:20:53 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Given the choice between $11 Billion to incumbent contractors for the SLS for 70 tonne lift capability at $1 Billion per flight and paying SpaceX $2.5 Billion for 140 tonne lift capability and $300 Million per flight they would probably have taken the latter choice.

I think any reasonable person would have chosen the latter choice especially since now (after the fact) we know that SpaceX is a viable solution. However I never thought NASA was made of reasonable people and much less when they are controlled by Congress.


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