Skip to comments.Nasa's mission orders come in: put astronauts on an asteroid within 15 years
Posted on 07/25/2011 4:26:50 PM PDT by Do Not Make Fun Of His Ears
With the space shuttle now history, Nasa's next great mission is so audacious, the agency's best minds are wrestling with how to pull it off.
They have presidential orders to to send astronauts to an asteroid in less than 15 years.
The challenges are innumerable, but many Nasa brains are thrilled to have such an improbable assignment - and believe civilisation may even depend on it.
An asteroid is a giant space rock that orbits the sun, like Earth. And someday one might threaten the planet.
But sending people to one won't be easy. You can't land on an asteroid because you'd bounce off - it has virtually no gravity. Astronauts couldn't even walk on it because they'd float away.
Reaching it might require a Nasa spacecraft to harpoon it.
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Isn't NASA now to be used for "Muslim Outreach"? I wasn't aware there were Muslims living on asteroids.
I guess someone in the Obama group liked the earth-saving asteroid movie “Armageddon.” I can’t think of any other reason for this.
Put Obama on an asteroid within 15 days.
Me either, I thought they were mostly found around hemmoroids.
Too big of a step. We should look at a longer stay on the moon first. Kinda pick up where we left off.
On the other hand, the time required in space to visit an asteroid might actually spur some innovation in shielding technology.
harpoon ——> tractor beam.
When Kennedy issued the challenge of the moon, he made sure to specify sending a man to the moon "and return him safely to Earth".
Don't see any such language here.
such as Vega or Eros?
We’re hitching rides on Russian rockets.... are going to pay the Russkies to take us there?
Proof that obama has rocks in his head. I personnaly think that putting astronauts in a capsule the size of Orion for a long duration trip would be a mental suicide mission.
And his space rock.
Heading for a landing on Niburu?
If you’re going out to the asteroid belt, might as well go all the way to Mars. Make it a two-fer. Drop the Muzzie astronauts on the asteroid and tell them we’ll pick them up on the way back.
Why is an asteroid better than Mars? Wouldn’t Mars be easier?
This is madness. There is nothing an astronaut can do to an asteroid that a robot cannot do better.
The mass of the largest asteroid is about 1/300 the mass of the Moon. I'm too lazy to calculate the escape velocity from Vesta, but my guess is that an uncovered sneeze could send and astronaut hurtling off into random areas of the solar system.
This is madness. There is nothing an astronaut can do to an asteroid that a robot cannot do better.
Any way we could make that happen?
New Mecca or Something...populate it with virgins?
Yeah, especially since Mars is closer than the asteroid belt. The asteroids are beyond mars, between mars and jupiter. This obsession obama has with landing on an asteroid indicates a mind formed by bad hollywood fiction.
An asteroid landing seems like an unnecessarily dangerous first step.
Or, a small nuclear isotope reactor could do it at a 1/4 of the weight and complexity.
Depending on the time of year, Mars is closer.
>>Too big of a step. We should look at a longer stay on the moon first. Kinda pick up where we left off.<<
Asimov and Heinlein BOTH suggested a “Luna City.” They prompted many a child to become rocket scientists, engineers and inventors of things from Velcro to MRIs to GPS.
We owe it to ourselves to establish a city on the Moon — there is so much we could learn and do there and, silly as it may seem to those who eschew SF, to complete the initial vision of the Masters who inspired so many.
This whole “go to a asteroid” and “maybe go to Mars” is a (yet another) sop by barry the zero’s handlers. He doesn’t care about space. The only space he understands is the one between his ears that gets filled by his handlers.
No, but it would be a start.
As they say about mountain climbing...."Getting up is optional, getting down is mandatory".
I think “landing on” is kind of a stupid way to go about it anyway.
A ‘fly by’ is much more feasible, useful, etc.
Reach out a sampling arm from a robot to get a sample off the surface - but don’t try to walk on it. It doesn’t have enough mass to keep you there.
I am thinking something along the lines of a Nebula Call Starship with gun rack and a whaling ship harpoon.
When Kennedy issued the chalenge to put a man on the moon “and return him safely to earth” it was because the USA had intel that Russia was close to sending a man to the moon- to die there.
They had many volunteers (space cowboys are like that) and not only was it horrifying to Kennedy’s morals but he knew if we issued that challenge Russia would NOT be able to keep up wih the safe return part of it.
That statement made sure we got there first.
We should explore the ruins Richard Hoagland (sp?) says on the side of the moon turned away from Earth. Or has he stopped saying they are there?
Doh! You’re right. For some reason I was thinking it was between Earth and Mars.
Wasted a completely good snarky comment.
Duh, Lori... and to think, she is in management.
Actually some of the asteroids out there would be almost easier to arrive at than going to the moon. Of course getting back might not be as easy.
Going to Mars would require a lot more than getting to an asteroid. Plus the expense of launching off of Mars for the return.
The point is there is NO POINT is sending a human to a big rock in space. You cannot land on it, or walk on it. Maybe you can haul it back and crash it into Mecca, I might support it then.
LOL the moon is littered with robot heads.
Mars is closer than the asteroid belt for one. We know more about Mars, its resources, its seasons, its orbit. A stepping stone to building a colony on Mars.
We know that lack of gravity has adverse effects on the human body.
Land astronauts on a asteroid sounds like another 0bama - Dr James Henson pie in the sky failure in the making without a long term plan.
We need a cheap launcher to put men on to the space station rather than rely on the old Soviets technology of Russia to do it. Maybe the Russians won after all.
It won't be easy because who can plot such a mission in one week's time which seems to be scientists' warning time frame on the "near misses" they've boasted about in the past 5 years.
Since they worship an asteroid in Mecca, a visit to an orbiting asteroid would be banishment to the anti-Mecca. Is not halal for a muslim to make this voyage.
Or we can even do both by going to Phobos/Deimos, the asteroid sized moons of Mars. Set up a base there for future landing on the surface.
Actually, I support this kind of mission, because processing asteroids into useful space materials is a necessary next step in colonization. And technically we already have landed a probe on an asteroid, around 1999/2000.
Looks kind of familiar...
How and with what? The boy king cancelled our heavy lifts, we’re going to have to pay, and handsomely at that, for another country to lift us into space. I doubt that they want to do something so fundamentally insane as to try to navigate a space body that has no gravity.
Some idiot has been watching too many movies.
No, it’s not. Ignore the idiot in the Administrator’s office.
At least Goldin tried to do some missions, in amongst his politicking.
Unfortunately, soft landing on Mars is impossible with rockets that we have (or know about.) Mars is worse than the Moon. The reason is that it has atmosphere. The atmosphere is too thin for a winged lander (Shuttle) or a parachute, but too dense for a vertical rocket-assisted landing.
The latter is not obvious, but it had been discussed many times on science and astronautics blogs. The rocket engine is open at the nozzle end. The incoming atmosphere, at many a Mach number, will create resonances within the chamber of the engine. Those resonances can completely shut the engine down, or interfere with it enough for you to drop like a stone (doesn't take much - failure of your only braking engine at 10 miles above Mars is not recoverable.)
Ideally, you land on Mars on gravity engines. Unfortunately, the blueprints of those are locked in a safe at Area 51 :-)
Landing on asteroids is not a landing at all, it's more like matching speeds and then drifting close enough to fire a harpoon and pull the ship closer. To start in the opposite direction you simply cut the rope and do whatever you want - the asteroid is not going to interfere and you don't need to use fuel to escape its gravity (it's negligible.) On the other hand, asteroids are pretty far away, and you may need some considerable fuel reserves to just keep the ship running for a couple of years that it takes to get there and back.
All in all, I don't see a good reason to send humans anywhere beyond the Moon. Planets, starting with Mars, are just too far away and humans are too short-lived and human engines are too weak. If you want, make a rocket with nuclear engines, and send robots to other planets. They will get there faster, and they don't need to return. Even today we have pretty decent mechanisms. They aren't proper thinking robots yet, but that is not even required, as long as the probe reports its findings every day and listens for instructions. There is no hurry, the probe can sit there, charge batteries or whatever it is doing in idle time, and wait until the controllers tell it what needs to be done.
There is an even better reason to send probes instead of humans. We need to test many asteroids, not just one. We need to know statistics about their composition. Testing of one piece of stone is pointless. Machines will do the testing better than humans; humans, after all, only can insert the sample into the machine - they can't use their eyes or other senses to test for chemicals. So why to send a valuable biological sample handling device (a human) when you can send an automated drill?
Ultimately, access to the space depends on good, clean, affordable engines. What we have now is neither. Every launch costs a small kingdom, and the mass that is delivered into orbit is fairly small. We have no engines to efficiently go beyond the LEO. It would be most important to develop those; nuclear propulsion is one possibility, but there are other. Most importantly, those engines should use reactive mass that can be found outside of Earth; water is one such option. We wouldn't want to buy a car that is pre-fueled at the factory and can't be refueled by the owner; so why do we accept that in rockets?