Feeds

NASA: Full details on our manned ASTEROID SNATCH mission

If Congress will fund it, that is

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Video NASA is pressing ahead with plans to capture an asteroid, pack it in an orbit around the Moon, and then send up a two-person crew to investigate and take samples, and it has released a video showing how it plans to achieve all this.

Orion asteroid capture mission

The two craft involved in capturing a shard of the Solar System

Over the last few months, NASA has been taking submissions for ideas on how to accomplish its goal of bringing an asteroid close to Earth for study – although not too close. Now it has released the plans for how it will go about bringing the shards of the Solar System in for inspection.

The space agency is planning a two-vehicle mission. The first launch will be an unmanned asteroid catcher, which will nuzzle up to a small asteroid and encase it in a "capture bag." Two solar-powered ion thrusters using xenon fuel will then maneuver the asteroid into a parking orbit around the Moon.

In the second stage of the mission, two astronauts in an Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle will be launched on the as-yet unbuilt Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket to rendezvous with the space rock. The astronauts will head in towards the Moon and get a gravity assist from the planetoid, enabling them to reach the captured asteroid within nine days.

Once there, the astronauts will exit the Orion capsule and crawl up the outside of the capture craft and onto the asteroid bag, which will be rigged with handholds. After filming the rock's form, drilling into its core, and taking samples for six days, the crew will reboard the Orion for the ten-day trip home, again using a lunar flyby to gain speed without using fuel.

NASA has released a bunch of pretty pictures and a video showing how it will all be done, but it's going to take cold, hard, cash – and a lot of it – to make this mission a reality. Sadly Congress shows little willingness to pony up for it, with the House of Representatives threatening to kill funding for the mission.

That's not to say all is lost. If Elon Musk's predictions about the future Falcon Heavy rocket that SpaceX is developing prove correct, it has the potential to be much cheaper than NASA's SLS design. That could free up some capital, and the mission could possibly use Musk's Dragon capsule, as well. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
'Utter killjoy Reg hacks have NEVER BEEN LAID', writes a fan
'Shuddit, smarty pants!' Some readers reacted badly to our last Doctor Who review ...
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
White LED lies: It's great, but Nobel physics prize-winning great?
How artificial lighting could offer an artificial promise
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.