Manned Asteroid Mission For Constellation Program?
NASA is studying a proposal to send people to rendezvous with an asteroid. Constellation hardware may be used to visit an NEO - Near Earth Object.
Could the Orion vehicle under development for coming lunar landing missions be used for other purposes?
“A human mission to a near Earth asteroid would be scientifically worthwhile,” said Chris McKay, deputy scientist in the Constellation science office at the NASA Johnson Space Center. “It could be part of an overall program of understanding these objects. Also, it would be useful, instrumentally, in terms of understanding the threat they pose to the Earth.”
“There’s a lot of public resonance with this notion that NASA ought to be doing something about killer asteroids…to be able to send serious equipment to an asteroid,” McKay observed. “The public wants us to have mastered the problem of dealing with asteroids. So being able to have astronauts go out there and sort of poke one with a stick would be scientifically valuable as well as demonstrate human capabilities,” he said.
As far as I know, the first story about landing a craft on an asteroid was written by Edward Drax in 1931. In The Travel Tales of Mr. Joseph Jorkens, minor navigation problems result in a landing on Eros:
"I had not seen it as soon as I had seen Mars, on account of its being so near to the line of the Sun... I couldn't make out anything, as most of the orb was in darkness... I got into the darkness at last and switched on my engines, and flew till I came to the very first edge of twilight that gave light enough for me to land... And that was how I came to make a bad landing, with my wheels deep down in a marsh...
A more technical approach to landing on an asteroid was completed by Robert Heinlein. In his 1939 short story Misfit, young men without a trade were given another chance in the Cosmic Construction Corps. One job was to make a livable space habitat on selected asteroids.
He walked over by the lookouts at stereoscopes and radar tanks and peered up at the star-flecked blackness. Three cigarettes later the lookout nearest him called out.
His mate read the exterior dials of the stereoscope. "Plus point two, abaft one point three, slight drift astern." He shifted to radar and added, "Range seven nine oh four three."
"Does that check?"
"Could be, Captain. What is her disk?" came the Navigator's muffled voice from under the hood.
The first lookout hurriedly twisted the knobs of his instrument, but the Captain nudged him aside.
"I'll do this, son." He fitted his face to the double eye guards and surveyed a little silvery sphere, a
tiny moon. Carefully he brought two illuminated cross-hairs up until they were exactly tangent to the
upper and lower limbs of the disk. "Mark!"
The reading was noted and passed to the Navigator, who shortly ducked out from under the hood.
"That's our baby, Captain"
...McCoy forced them to lie down throughout the ensuing two hours. Short shocks of rocket blasts
alternated with nauseating weightlessness. Then the blowers stopped and check valves clicked into their
seats. The ship dropped free for a few moments -- a final quick blast -- five seconds of falling, and a
short, light, grinding bump. A single bugle note came over the announcer, and the blowers took up their
Take a look at these other asteroid-related stories:
- Proposal To Move An Asteroid
The B612 Foundation recently testified before a senate subcommittee regarding a "new" proposal to move an asteroid. What science fiction author proposed moving an asteroid over sixty years ago?
- MADMEN Robot Swarm To Handle Incoming Asteroids?
SpaceWorks Engineering, Inc. has completed a preliminary study for NASA in planetary defense against asteroid impactors.
Read more about Planning for Human-Asteroid Mission.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/17/2006)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )
Related News Stories -
Self-Healing Materials For Spacecraft
'It even had an inter-skin layer of gum that sealed the punctures...'- Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.
Canada's Inflatable Space Elevator Tower
"...establish an elevator system linking Earth to space?"- Arthur C. Clarke, 1976.
Artificial Gravity? Why Not?
'The artificial gravity-controls in the base of the ship... were being tampered with!' - Ray Cummings
NASA Misses $5Trillion Funding Boost
'This must be a golden planet—this little asteroid.' - Garrett P. Serviss, 1898.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Ecocapsule - Simak's Dream Of A Prefab House
'They are heated and air conditioned by a solar plant that tops anything... that we have today.'
New Super Slippery Surface Better Than Nature's
'The water flowed off those walls without binding tension.'
Killer Robot COTSBot Stalks Starfish
'X-120's long jointed arms swung swiftly. The tiny animal lay crushed...'
Heart-In-A-Box Saves Organ For Later
'Storage in the hospital's organ banks...'
MultiFab 10-Material 3D Printer
'On the concrete platform, in front of the dying Biltong, lay a heap of originals to be duplicated.'
Chaac Ha Dew Collector ala Dune
'The surface condenses moisture out of the air. That moisture trickles down...'
Digital Immortality For Your Personality
'You've got remote storage. How regular is the update?'
Robots Take Our Jobs By Reading Our Instructions
'The Talk Between Robots radio...'
Surgery In Space
' It was a ... coffin, form-fitted to Nessus himself...'
Flimmer Navy Drone Flies And Swims
Launch the Flying Sub!
Taser Drones Now Legal In North Dakota
'I sent my eyes on their rounds and tended my gallery of one hundred-thirty changing pictures...'
Growing Metal In The Shape You Want
What more do you need, engineers?
Self-Healing Materials For Spacecraft
'It even had an inter-skin layer of gum that sealed the punctures...'
World's First Full-Colour, Flexible Thin-Film Reflective Display
'A wide sheet of clear material suddenly flared with light and swirling colour....'
Jazz AI Compliments Of DARPA
'I request that you feed the correlation between those dots and the levers of the panel into my memory banks.'
Tasty Space Lettuce!
Having tested, we tasted.
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories