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Engineering and Technology Colloquia Series

An Architectural Strategy for Piloted Missions to NEOs

Presented by: Rob Landis (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Wallops Island Facility)
Category: Engineering Colloquia   Duration: 2 hours   Broadcast date: November 29, 2011
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The impetus for asteroid exploration is scientific, political, and pragmatic. The notion of sending human explorers to asteroids is not new. Piloted missions to these primitive bodies were first discussed in the 1960s, pairing Saturn V rockets with enhanced Apollo spacecraft to explore what were then called “Earth-approaching asteroids.” Most recently, the U.S. Human Space Flight Review Committee (the second Augustine Commission) suggested that near-Earth objects (NEOs) represent a target-rich environment for exploration via the “Flexible Path” option. However, prior to seriously considering human missions to NEOs, it has become clear that we currently lack a robust catalog of human-accessible targets. The majority of the NEOs identified by a study team across several NASA centers as “human-accessible” are probably too small and have orbits that are too uncertain to consider mounting piloted expeditions to these small worlds. The first step in a low-risk architecture for astronaut- explorers to eventually visit these bits of solar system jetsam and flotsam is a space-based survey telescope.

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Rob's Presentation PDF document (.pdf)