Wednesday, May 07, 2008

NASA Considers Manned Asteroid Mission

The asteroid mission would act as a "stepping stone" for future planetary missions to Mars and beyond. This three-month trek would provide vital technological, psychological and practical clues to what a manned deep space mission would face. Landing on an asteroid will be very difficult (due to the tiny influence of gravity on such a low-mass body), but it would provide an opportunity for astronauts to mine for water ice, use it for consumption and convert it into its component hydrogen and oxygen (for fuel and breathing). These tests would be essential before sending man on a long-term mission to Mars.

Wait -- I thought the Moon was the logical "stepping stone."


Anonymous said...

Ok...that's just fucked. Why in the hell would they waste money on a highly dangerous asteroid mission instead of spending the budget on building lunar infrastructure???

I would shake my head but I think I already know the answer ;)


Nergal said...

Someone who likes the idea of asteroid mining did the math and realized the delta-v on a lunar trip was only a hair short of what is required to get you to a near earth asteroid. Look! Sudden new capability in our awesome new hardware! They've actually been bandying this proposal around since about a month after the "return to the moon" decision was made. The way things are going, they'll probably end up on an asteroid to test the hardware - and get a pizza delivered to them from Virgin's lunar hotel and day spa.