Feeds

NASA: Full details on our manned ASTEROID SNATCH mission

If Congress will fund it, that is

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.