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The Jedi Master

NASA To Land A Man On An Asteriod By 2025

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Yes, you read the title right. According to the recently posted Polygon article on KSP--which you can find a link to at the dev blog--NASA plans to land a human on an asteroid by 2025. This is their most ambitious project in a long while, possibly since Apollo. If they succeed, it will be the greatest achievement in the history of mankind.

Of course, given how NASA has been going lately, I'm rather cynical about how it's going to turn out. Even if they do succeed, what is the science to be gained? It's a giant rock, after all. Even so, it's still very cool.

Opinions, anyone?

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NASA planned to land a man on Mars by 1975. Last I looked they're still not there, unless the conspiracy theorists are right about the secret underground Mars bases that is.

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Yes, you read the title right. According to the recently posted Polygon article on KSP--which you can find a link to at the dev blog--NASA plans to land a human on an asteroid by 2025. This is their most ambitious project in a long while, possibly since Apollo. If they succeed, it will be the greatest achievement in the history of mankind.

Of course, given how NASA has been going lately, I'm rather cynical about how it's going to turn out. Even if they do succeed, what is the science to be gained? It's a giant rock, after all. Even so, it's still very cool.

Opinions, anyone?

From what I heard, they are pushing it to 2021 and cancelling the original lunar-flyby missions.

In truth, from recent interest in Congress, increased funding, and several bills, I highly doubt it will be cancelled. After all, Congress just passed a bill that would limit the powers of the President over NASA, which would prevent the cancellation of the mission. With the Chinese hot on their tail, it is very unlikely they would tolerate such an setback to NASA.

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What's new about this? the ARM has been scheduled for the EM-2 mission, or even EM-1, for months now.

The original plan was to send Orion to a free range asteroid, but it turned out that the trip would be too long for a single Orion, and because there is no money to develop a hab module, NASA's medical committee vetoed it. This is why the current plan is to send a SEP tug with a huge plastic duffle bag to capture a tiny 10-meter asteroid and to bring it within range of Orion in EML1 or 2.

The long pole in the project, of course, is the famous SEP tug/duffle bag contraption... like all mission hardware for the SLS, there is no real budget and development can only start when SLS development is done, which means that SLS will spend its early years as a hangar queen waiting for mission payloads.

Finally, the whole point of the mission, other than to demonstrate Orion/SLS, is dubious. The wrapper bag technology doesn't scale well for future bigger rocks, and there isn't much benefit from sending humans to scrape samples off of it instead of a rover.

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Interesting long range mission+a lot of media coverage=good publicity for NASA=MOAR MONEY! And that hopefully could mean either return to the Moon or Mars mission. Or a new, huge space station.

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Yay, that oughta help 'em get funding from congress.

By the way, why send people to a space rock?

We don't really know what their composition and nature is, and it would likely tell us a lot about the early solar system and how planets form. However, they don't really need to send people to do it, the whole mission seems to have been proposed so NASA can test the Orion and SLS system.

I'm sure there are more cost-effective ways of testing infrastructure, but it would be an achievement, so... :P

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Obama announced the "asteroid by 2025" goal back in 2010 when he cancelled Constellation and instated the current program. This is old news. Also, to me, the current asteroid retrieval mission is a little bit of a cheat if you will, since the original plan referred to visiting a full-fledged giant NEA in deep space, not a little boulder captured and returned to lunar orbit. You still can say "well, we DID go to an asteroid", but it's a far cry from actually being able to explore an object of several kilometers in size with all its varied terrain and interesting geography. But, the ARM is what the budget allows (even then, by the skin of their teeth... and that's without the inevitable cost inflations)

The asteroid mission is only intended as a stepping stone to Mars, but as has been said quite plainly by the NASA administration, Mars isn't happening on the current budget.

Edited by NovaSilisko

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Yay, that oughta help 'em get funding from congress.

By the way, why send people to a space rock?

One could say because it would settle some questions about the origin of the solar system, but truth I think is just that it's the only thing they can afford and they want to go somewhere.

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You do kinda wonder what exactly new we are going to learn from such a mission.

Asteroids are pretty much the same in terms of chemical composition regardless of whether they are floating around in space or sitting on the Earth surface after entering the atmosphere

What are we actually going to learn ?

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We are going to learn what sort of spending the public is willing to tolerate in the name of political willy-waving.

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You do kinda wonder what exactly new we are going to learn from such a mission.

Asteroids are pretty much the same in terms of chemical composition regardless of whether they are floating around in space or sitting on the Earth surface after entering the atmosphere

What are we actually going to learn ?

Maybe it's more about the effects of BEO space on the humans, and this was the cheapest manned proposal they had on their plate. I haven't read much about it because it sounds like science fiction and sounds like it will be cancelled. Capture a building sized asteroid in a giant bag and tow it around? Really? Do we even have flexible materials that are strong enough for that kind of stress? I'm no scientist, but I foresee it not happening.

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Asteroids are pretty much the same in terms of chemical composition regardless of whether they are floating around in space or sitting on the Earth surface after entering the atmosphere

Depends on the kind of asteroid, and how long it's been sitting on earth. C-types contain plenty of organic compounds and volatiles that would be either destroyed or contaminated pretty much immediately, and they're the main type scientists want to target. Of course, Hayabusa 2 and NASA's own OSIRIS-REx are both set to return C-type samples before this boondoggle even gets off the the ground...

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Hayabusa 2

I saw a 2014 launch date for that, but haven't really seen much news on it... last I heard it had begun construction, but that was only late last year. Seems unlikely that they'd be able to launch this year, not without rushing the process (and potentially damning the probe)

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Asteroid mission is a desparate attempt to find some use for the SLS. Science community doesn't want it and politicians doesn't want it. Plus there is no money for developing the needed hardware. And of course there really isn't much point - you can send a probe there much cheaper (Rosetta, anyone? Dawn?). It's probably not going to happen.

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NASA planned to land a man on Mars by 1975. Last I looked they're still not there, unless the conspiracy theorists are right about the secret underground Mars bases that is.

I wish we'd made it there, but...

Honestly, bringing an Asteroid *back* is quite the accomplishment itself if you think about it. We'll literally be dragging a celestial object through space, just because we want to take a stroll on it.

I think that says something about our desire to go places, if only a little misplaced.

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I saw a 2014 launch date for that, but haven't really seen much news on it... last I heard it had begun construction, but that was only late last year.

They started the integration tests on the flight model in late 2012, and they were finished in June last year (both here near the bottom), so that can't be right. Are you sure what you saw wasn't something about instrument assembly?

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They started the integration tests on the flight model in late 2012, and they were finished in June last year (both here near the bottom), so that can't be right. Are you sure what you saw wasn't something about instrument assembly?

Must've been. I'm surprised they aren't publicising it more (maybe they are in Japan?)

I forgot about the SCIM... the fact it's going to be recorded while shooting an asteroid is gonna be so damn cool.

By the way, the original post-Apollo plan for mars exploration was 1985, not 75 (I think). Stephen Baxter wrote an excellent novel about this possible scenario http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyage_%28novel%29

Edited by NovaSilisko

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You do kinda wonder what exactly new we are going to learn from such a mission.

Asteroids are pretty much the same in terms of chemical composition regardless of whether they are floating around in space or sitting on the Earth surface after entering the atmosphere

What are we actually going to learn ?

Not much... We have meteoroids and asteroid fragments here on earth, most of which would be exactly the type of rock that they would go to, which, since they are limited by the 21 day range of the orion capsule, is an NEO object that is in a similar enough orbit to earth that happens to wiz by some day.

I suspect the asteroid mission is merely something to give the SLS and Orion "something to do", until they can develop payloads to actually do something worthwhile.

One might say this will inspire people because we're going somewhere we haven't gone before, and I think it would. That is, it would if they actually went to a real, big asteroid, but I don't think that's what they're doing.

The mission plan that I've seen circulated most is where NASA uses something like an ion driven probe to capture some meteoroid and bring it into a lunar orbit.

They then send the astronauts to the moon again after 50 years. But this time there is a tiny rock there! Woop dee do!

But you know, if that's what we will get in terms of manned space flight, I'll take it. It's still better than being stuck in LEO.

Edited by maccollo

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Asteroid mission is a desparate attempt to find some use for the SLS. Science community doesn't want it and politicians doesn't want it. Plus there is no money for developing the needed hardware. And of course there really isn't much point - you can send a probe there much cheaper (Rosetta, anyone? Dawn?). It's probably not going to happen.

The SLS only exists because of Congress. That's why we call it the Senate Launch System. Shame it can't actually launch the senators to space, though :P

To me, the SLS is just Congress trying to intervene too much in the current state of NASA. Yes, all this renewed interest in human spaceflight by the Federal Government is good, but they aren't rocket scientists, thy're lawmakers and politicans. Congress is basically trying to force NASA into reliving it's old glory days of the 1960s with costly new rockets and massive projects stuffed full of money, not exactly the most efficent way to run space programs.

While I do support the SLS program, and while I am the most optimistic about its future, the most cost-effective way would to be invest in Commerical LEO taxis and have them ferry up crew to spacecraft constructed in orbit such as the DSH and Natilus-X.

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I remember hearing a while ago that NASA was actually about to start a competition through various commercial providers to pick their new launch vehicle, when congress butted in with NO USE SHUTTLE COMPONENTS

Specifically, the congressmen who would have those shuttle components built in their districts...

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Congress is basically trying to force NASA into reliving it's old glory days of the 1960s with costly new rockets and massive projects stuffed full of money, not exactly the most efficent way to run space programs

I'm not a citizen of the USA but from my point of view, for your politicians and lobbyists NASA exists primarily to spend, so that the federal money flows to the right pockets (big aerospace companies and through them to the people who are going to elect their Senators). That's the whole deal - no matter what NASA is doing, it has to spend to keep alive the hi-tech industry. I think we can safely say that this whole Space Race thing was just a one-off show motivated purely by politics. I doubt anyone who's in charge cares or wants to go to Mars or to the asteroids. That's why there is SLS, a giant rocket without any payload or goal. The spice must flow!

Or maybe I'm just reading too much Baxter and nasawatch.com lately.

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Yes, you read the title right. According to the recently posted Polygon article on KSP--which you can find a link to at the dev blog--NASA plans to land a human on an asteroid by 2025. This is their most ambitious project in a long while, possibly since Apollo. If they succeed, it will be the greatest achievement in the history of mankind.

Of course, given how NASA has been going lately, I'm rather cynical about how it's going to turn out. Even if they do succeed, what is the science to be gained? It's a giant rock, after all. Even so, it's still very cool.

Opinions, anyone?

I'm cynical that there is even going to be a NASA by 2025. If we don't go broke (we're already renting spaceships) we'll need to live on that asteroid from all the pollution on earth :(

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I'm not a citizen of the USA but from my point of view, for your politicians and lobbyists NASA exists primarily to spend, so that the federal money flows to the right pockets (big aerospace companies and through them to the people who are going to elect their Senators). That's the whole deal - no matter what NASA is doing, it has to spend to keep alive the hi-tech industry. I think we can safely say that this whole Space Race thing was just a one-off show motivated purely by politics. I doubt anyone who's in charge cares or wants to go to Mars or to the asteroids. That's why there is SLS, a giant rocket without any payload or goal. The spice must flow!

Or maybe I'm just reading too much Baxter and nasawatch.com lately.

You aren't, but the increased interest in space flows different ways.

Firstly, I feel like Congress is actually becoming geniunely interested in space, instead of interested in the money it generates. Late last year, the House held the first hearing on the possibility of alien life, followed by an last minute decision supported by both political parties that increased NASA's budget to fit in another large flagship type mission (According to Spacenews.com, Congress has ordered NASA to provide proposals for another robotic flagship mission May this year, along with 80million in funding to study an robotic mission to Europa). The issue is, I don't think the Congressmen/women know how to express that interest other than forcing NASA to build rockets to nowhere. So while the government is starting to warm up back to its old stance of total support for spaceflight (Understandable, when you realize that China is catching up quickly with NASA).

So while some interest in NASA is only for the pork, its nice to know that NASA has true political supporters who truly see the beauty in space exploration.

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I don't think it's really congress becoming interested in space themselves for the most part. It's congress realizing that some of their constituents care about space, and, therefore, if they support space, they have a better chance of getting re-elected.

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