NASA Wants to Capture Asteroids for Exploration
April 12, 2013 1:25 PM
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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
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.
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We've already done the moon, remember?
4/15/2013 2:27:43 AM
This got long. TL;DR version- US solves human transport/logistics problems with deep space. Rest of world solves human Base/Settlement problems. When ready to hit mars, NASA has knowledge to get humans to mars alive, and then can as rest of world how to build the base there.
It sucks that NASA has to try and find an "action packed" PR "hook" to get the general public even remotely interested. Yes Mars or the Moon are sexier targets, but bear with me on why either (IN MY UNSOURCED OPINION) isn't the best bang for buck at the moment.
We've been to the moon. We were first remember! And that was some serious butt-kicking of 1970's technology. All we could hope to do now in 2013 with a moon landing is prove we can... still do it with 40 years newer tech. We can't really do a BASE yet! Which leads me to...
Mars landing. Yes we need to push to do this, we will need a base and other long term human survival tech developments. Problem is what we need we *could* do now but omg, can you say massive cost and basically HUGE delays as we force tech at top dollar to innovate and get a design out now? hahah America is so capitalist greed/political "what's in it for me" there's no way that would succeed here in the 2010's. Lets try in 2030's? But we can start developing some of the tech needed, and leveraging our currently developed tech base in an actual mission we could do NOW like...
Asteroid landing. Yes at face value this is boring, but consider the massive difficulty of landing a person on a highly moving and irregular target in space... outside of the protective fields of earth, AND while still doing productive things, right NOW. Having a manned mission to an asteroid isn't about anything special a person could do, it's about solving and proofing the massive logistics of moving our fragile earth-centric bodies around in space! We push/prove the tech for say 2020's space travel.
What do you think one of the primary purposes of the Space Station and Mir were about? A building block of long term human exposure to space. Now what happens w/o the comfort of a station and it's just a traveling craft out of orbit? Theoretical is nice, but we need to just "F*cking DO IT!" and pan this stuff out. And while I'm here, Russia needs some serious credit and the awesomeness of the Cosmonauts. Russia back then was the only other country with the "guts" to do serious space travel. And they did it without all of the super-fancy tech. Political and cold war stuff aside, they f*cking did it, and with even older tech. Russia is hard-core - respect.
I know this is already getting TL:DR, but the asteroid missions are important because they're difficult! Getting a spacecraft there that's NOT just a potentially disposable sensor platform, delivering HUMANS to an objective, and then RETRIEVING THEM and BRINGING THEM BACK is vitally important. It literally will be Apollo + ISS + Mir + probe missions knowledge combined.
Those worried about the moon, every other emerging space program will hit there. India, China, etc can get the base tech going there. Meanwhile we need to prove/solve problems/logistics of human "day to day" in space TO GET SOMEWHERE, and when the time comes for bases from mars, GUESS WHAT? Those problems will have been worked on by all the Moon base folks =)
RE: We've already done the moon, remember?
4/15/2013 2:46:30 AM
"Asteroid landing. Yes as face value this is boring..."
When I said this, it was more to pull in those disappointed we we "only" going to some rock in space.
Seriously... the fact "we" (humanity) can detect and pick out an arbitrary, high speed, and rather small object in space, and then have the precision to land a person on it, and have them be able to get out, walk around and tromp around on it? That's not just some sensor scan or pretty pictures, that's having some person actually go down there, and be able to physically kick something the same way you can get up and kick something out of your yard. That's frigging amazing.
Also consider the person who gets to walk on that asteroid... probably will not only be the first, but only human to ever walk on it. Ever. Kinda redefines walking on unexplored land.
Just some things to consider.
"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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