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NASA's Garver Proposes Carving Piece Off Big Asteroid For Near-Earth Mining 110

Posted by timothy
from the worth-it-at-any-price dept.
MarkWhittington writes "According to a July 26, 2013 story in Space News, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver mused about what appeared to be a change to the space agency's asteroid snatching mission at the NewSpace 2013 conference. Apparently the idea is to send a robot to a larger asteroid than originally planned, carve out a chunk of it, and then bring it to lunar orbit for an crew of astronauts to visit in an Orion space ship. Garver's proposed change would widen the number of target asteroids and would test technologies important for asteroid mining. But it would also increase the complexity and certainly the cost of the asteroid mission. There are a lot of unanswered questions, such as what kind of mechanism would be involved in taking a piece of an asteroid and moving it? At the same conference Garver had hinted at a willingness to consider mounting a program of "sustainable" lunar exploration, as some in Congress have demanded, concurrent with the asteroid mission."
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NASA's Garver Proposes Carving Piece Off Big Asteroid For Near-Earth Mining

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 28, 2013 @01:58PM (#44407611)

    The first step is probably going to be hunting down mini moons [discovery.com] where all the delta-v is provided by gravity. Once the fundamental technologies are in place we can go hunting for bigger fish, but first we have to start with the minnows.

  • It makes sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mbone (558574) on Sunday July 28, 2013 @04:16PM (#44408289)

    The trouble with sending a mission (manned or unmanned) to a very small (5 meter class) asteroid in the near future is that we don't know their orbits well enough. At all. Out of 374 very small near Earth asteroids known, exactly 2 have decently determined orbits. The chances of finding a candidate 5 meter asteroid in time to send a mission to it, and having a good enough determination of its orbit to have a mission get to it, is basically nill without a dedicated space telescope such as the B612 Foundations Sentinel [b612foundation.org] mission. So, unless we are willing to wait for an extra 5+ years to build and fly an asteroid finder, that means we have to carve off a piece of a bigger asteroid (more are known, and they tend to have better orbit determinations). As it happens, that is also what the asteroid mining people want NASA to demonstrate, as that fits their view of how asteroid mining will be done, and it will make the asteroid geologists happier as well, so this seems like a win-win all around.

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