Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Asteroid Mission - 2025

New idea being pitched around is a plan to visit a asteroid in the year 2025. The mission is nickname: Plymouth Rock.

Gee, that would be the perfect mission of a Orion class spaceship. Oops! Forgot President Obama axed that program. But, there is a resistance movment in Congress to keep Orion on life support until Obama can be kicked out of office.

Quoting the Space.com article: "We are pleased that the Orion project is included in the House and Senate bills as Lockheed Martin works toward a 2013 launch date," said Linda Singleton, Orion Communications Manager for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. in Houston.

This week, Josh Hopkins of Lockheed's Human Spaceflight Advanced Programs will detail an early human mission to near-Earth asteroids using Orion spacecraft, at Space 2010, a conference being held by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. end quote.

But - back to what is referred to as "The Plymouth Rock" deep space exploration mission. A so-called dressed rehearsal for a manned mission to Mars.

Lockheed Martin has been spending its own cash on developing this mission plan. Josh Hopkins detail what an early human mission to near-Earth asteroids using Orion spacecraft would be like, at Space 2010, a conference being held by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

At that meeting, the proposed asteroid mission concept combines two Orion spacecraft with modifications to provide the necessary propulsion, living space and life-support capability for two astronauts. The dual-Orion configuration can probably support deep-space mission durations of five to six months.

Quote, "Because Orion is already designed to do missions far beyond low-Earth orbit, it already has most of the capabilities that we need," Hopkins said.

Thomas Jones, a former space shuttle astronaut, "NASA's plans for how to execute a NEO mission are still in the formative stage, but a key component of any mission concept is a small piloted re-entry vehicle," Jones told SPACE.com. "The updated Orion could serve this function, as part of a larger spacecraft capable of reaching and exploring a NEO."

NASA could build a NEO cruise vehicle in low-Earth orbit or at a stable point in space near Earth called a Lagrange point, Jones said. That craft would consist of a propulsion system, habitation volume, a small NEO surface exploration craft that Jones likened to a "space pod" and the re-entry vehicle.

"An attractive change for NASA between the lunar architecture and proposed NEO missions is that most of this cruise vehicle could be re-used," Jones said.

Only the re-entry vehicle would have to be replaced, he added. The rest of the mission's assets could be left in Earth orbit to be used on later flights.

Now this is where Robert Bigelow can come in with his inflatable haitats for a space mission. This could increase the crew size from two to four.

Anyway, use the link below for the entire article.

1. Space.com. August 30, 2010. "'Plymouth Rock' Deep Space Adteroid Mission Idea Gains Ground" by Leonard David. (http://www.space.com/news/asteroid-mission-plans-orion-spacecraft-100830.html).
2. Image from Space.com.

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