Author Topic: Captured Asteroid mission - Redefining EM-2 for the bold challenge  (Read 37806 times)

Online Chris Bergin

Second thread for this mission, given this is covering elements in and outside of the new mission - such as realigning EM-2 and such.

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2013/04/captured-asteroid-mission-redefining-em-2-challenge/

Offline Maverick

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Really interesting read as it covered a lot of previous and future interest. Thanks for putting that all together!

Offline R7

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The more I read about this asteroid bagging thing the more I like it. Gives EM-2 crew something truly interesting to do. Develops technology and experience usable for both asteroid mitigation and utilization. For ~20 tons you get hundreds of tons of mass in high lunar orbit beckoning further ISRU experiments. One question though; with the lunar masscons how stable would the asteroid orbit be?
AD·ASTRA·ASTRORVM·GRATIA

Offline Orbiter

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I think the fact that we had that meteorite hit Russia last February might have something to do with the sudden re-purposing of EM-2. It certainly caught the public's attention to have two major asteroids involve Earth on the same day, one of them hitting Earth and hurting 1,000+ people. I think in some regards it woke us up to the dangers from space. Of course, I have no basis for this conclusion but I think it's a logical one.

I believe this is a good step in the right direction, not just for exploration, but planetary defense. The technology developed for this can be used to defend us from larger asteroids. We'll see how this goes, I'm glad they're re-purposing EM-2 instead of adding a new mission beyond 2021.
« Last Edit: 04/11/2013 03:29 PM by Orbiter »
Attended space missions: STS-114, STS-124, STS-128, STS-135, Atlas V "Curiosity", Delta IV Heavy NROL-15, Atlas V MUOS-2, Delta IV Heavy NROL-37, Falcon 9 CRS-9, Falcon 9 JCSAT-16, Atlas V GOES-R, Falcon 9 SES-11, Falcon Heavy Demo.

Offline Proponent

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One question though; with the lunar masscons how stable would the asteroid orbit be?

Since the orbit would be quite high, I think the major threats to stability are the sun and the earth.  The orbit is specifically selected to ensure that the asteroid will eventually hit the moon so there's no risk of it hitting the earth someday.  That seems to be at least part of the reason that neither L1 or L2 is selected.  I wonder about L4 and L5, though.  They're pretty stable.  How would the delta-Vs compare?

Online Chris Bergin

Really interesting read as it covered a lot of previous and future interest. Thanks for putting that all together!

Thanks very much! :)

Offline Lobo

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I think the fact that we had that meteorite hit Russia last February might have something to do with the sudden re-purposing of EM-2. It certainly caught the public's attention to have two major asteroids involve Earth on the same day, one of them hitting Earth and hurting 1,000+ people. I think in some regards it woke us up to the dangers from space. Of course, I have no basis for this conclusion but I think it's a logical one.

I believe this is a good step in the right direction, not just for exploration, but planetary defense. The technology developed for this can be used to defend us from larger asteroids. We'll see how this goes, I'm glad they're re-purposing EM-2 instead of adding a new mission beyond 2021.

To be honest, I think this is a -bit- of a gimmick.  I'd guess that an asteroid hitting Russia, and another near miss, got the attention of some of the public, news, and some politicians.  Interest means support for something that might be able to do something about such a threat hitting the US, or a large enough one hitting somewhere in the world to be very deadly.  And maybe there's money to be given to NASA for pursuing the ability to do something about it?
NASA might be seeing missions that could entice additional funding from Congress, where a Gateway and lunar program doesn't seem to be getting much interest in additional funding.

It's not a gimmick that it's not a legitimate mission, but a gimmick in that it's "following the money".  Boldin might help Hollywood put out a couple more "Armegedon" and "Deep Impact" type movies in the mean time to gin up a little more attention towards it.  ;-)

Online Robotbeat

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If it's gimmicky at all, it's that this mission is being responsive to something the public might actually care about (asteroids, oh my!).

But to be honest, NASA /needs/ to connect to any kind of public awareness that is out there (in connection with space). Otherwise, people will just start asking, "Why are we worrying about stuff up there when there's plenty of stuff to worry about down here?" Now, you and I may think pursuing HSF and supporting the expansion of humanity into the cosmos is worthwhile for its own merits, but everyone else thinks we have our heads in the clouds.

It is pretty valuable (in regards to building public support for space exploration, public or private) to be able to point to the asteroid threat (which is real, not just a gimmick) and say, "See what happened in Russia? THAT'S why we care about what goes on up there." It's much harder to justify an outer planets science mission (something also worth doing because learning about stuff is awesome) to the average Joe than it is to show how NASA is addressing something (in even a small way) that could actually affect his life.
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Offline Rocket Science

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Nice piece Chris! :) Interesting mission; however I still don’t buy the necessity for “humans in the loop”...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline Orbiter

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I think the fact that we had that meteorite hit Russia last February might have something to do with the sudden re-purposing of EM-2. It certainly caught the public's attention to have two major asteroids involve Earth on the same day, one of them hitting Earth and hurting 1,000+ people. I think in some regards it woke us up to the dangers from space. Of course, I have no basis for this conclusion but I think it's a logical one.

I believe this is a good step in the right direction, not just for exploration, but planetary defense. The technology developed for this can be used to defend us from larger asteroids. We'll see how this goes, I'm glad they're re-purposing EM-2 instead of adding a new mission beyond 2021.

To be honest, I think this is a -bit- of a gimmick.  I'd guess that an asteroid hitting Russia, and another near miss, got the attention of some of the public, news, and some politicians.  Interest means support for something that might be able to do something about such a threat hitting the US, or a large enough one hitting somewhere in the world to be very deadly.  And maybe there's money to be given to NASA for pursuing the ability to do something about it?
NASA might be seeing missions that could entice additional funding from Congress, where a Gateway and lunar program doesn't seem to be getting much interest in additional funding.

It's not a gimmick that it's not a legitimate mission, but a gimmick in that it's "following the money".  Boldin might help Hollywood put out a couple more "Armegedon" and "Deep Impact" type movies in the mean time to gin up a little more attention towards it.  ;-)


I wouldn't say *some*, you would have to be a hermit to not have heard about the strike - it got more hits on YouTube the first day it was uploaded than any other video. :)

The public is very interested, and concerned, about asteroids now that its been violently shoved in their faces. Politicians are taking advantage of that fact and that's how we're getting this mission. So in that sense, you're right, it is a gimmick.
« Last Edit: 04/12/2013 03:59 AM by Orbiter »
Attended space missions: STS-114, STS-124, STS-128, STS-135, Atlas V "Curiosity", Delta IV Heavy NROL-15, Atlas V MUOS-2, Delta IV Heavy NROL-37, Falcon 9 CRS-9, Falcon 9 JCSAT-16, Atlas V GOES-R, Falcon 9 SES-11, Falcon Heavy Demo.

Online PahTo

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Nice article, thanks Chris.
I think this re-purposed EM-2 is a reason for optimism and excitement if it happens.  From technology demonstration and development, to a firm and fascinating destination, to the commercial appeal (or appeal to commercial interests)--it is a multi-faceted mission that can capture the interest of the world for the wonder, the technology, the potential profit and yes, even collision avoidance.  And to top it off, there's even a little sense of urgency even though the first launch isn't until 2019 (SLS validation mission of 2017 not withstanding)!
« Last Edit: 04/11/2013 10:42 PM by PahTo »

Offline sdsds

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The article does make this seem much more exciting (though also more boldly challenging) than the previous EM-2 definition. In terms of the bold challenges, is there much more information on the precision rendezvous? The docking? And perhaps most challenging, the EVA? Presumably for the prior EM-2 some sort of contingency EVA capability would have been present, but this mission requires much more than that. For example do all four crew members completely suit up each time anyone goes out the hatch?
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Offline CNYMike

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Interesting article on a concept that is an interesting twist.  I hope they can pull it off. 
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Offline Universe Daily

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Wouldn't make better sense to tow a BIG asteroid to Earth and leave it in orbit there? Astronauts will need to travel to lunar orbit to reach the little thing NASA is preparing to fetch. We could hollow out a big one and use it as a space station. Thick dirt walls make excellent shielding against solar and cosmic radiation. Surely that would benefit us more.

Offline QuantumG

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Welcome to the forum. There's a difference between what is "better" and what is possible :)

(also, what is probable with the minimal budget)


I hear those things are awfully loud. It glides as softly as a cloud. What's it called? Monowhale!

Offline deltaV

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1. The FY 2014 asteroid proposal involves a small asteroid because big asteroids, being big, are difficult to move.

2. One reason to avoid bringing an asteroid to LEO is the risk of such an asteroid reentering and damaging something.

Offline sdsds

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3. Putting something in high lunar orbit provides a justification for developing the ability to go there.
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Offline QuantumG

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3. Putting something in high lunar orbit provides a justification for developing the ability to go there.

Honestly, I think that's disingenuous.. it's simply easier to move the smaller mass of a capsule up to high lunar orbit than it is to move 500 tons from high lunar orbit to LEO, and capture into LEO is a lot harder than high lunar orbit.

Demonstrating the capture of a 500 ton rock into lunar orbit will prove difficult enough. We don't yet know how to do it. On the other hand, actually succeeding in doing that will enable bigger rocks to be captured in the future. L5 by '95 baby!
I hear those things are awfully loud. It glides as softly as a cloud. What's it called? Monowhale!

Offline Soralin

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Wouldn't make better sense to tow a BIG asteroid to Earth and leave it in orbit there? Astronauts will need to travel to lunar orbit to reach the little thing NASA is preparing to fetch. We could hollow out a big one and use it as a space station. Thick dirt walls make excellent shielding against solar and cosmic radiation. Surely that would benefit us more.
Big asteroids are big, they have much more mass.  Which means you need a lot more fuel to move them.  Basically, if you're using the same type of propulsion for each, and moving them the same amount (same delta-v), you need the same % of it's mass in propellent for each to move them. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsiolkovsky_rocket_equation )

So, if you want to do the same thing with an asteroid 1000 times the mass, it takes 1000 times as much fuel.

And mass scales with radius^3, so if you wanted something that has 10x the radius, it would be (10^3) = 1000 times as massive.

Offline Proponent

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The article does make this seem much more exciting (though also more boldly challenging) than the previous EM-2 definition. In terms of the bold challenges, is there much more information on the precision rendezvous? The docking?

What would that be particularly challenging?  It's a rendezvous and docking in lunar orbit with a co-operative object.  That's been done before.

Quote
And perhaps most challenging, the EVA? Presumably for the prior EM-2 some sort of contingency EVA capability would have been present, but this mission requires much more than that. For example do all four crew members completely suit up each time anyone goes out the hatch?

No doubt they would, as was the case for Gemini and Apollo EVAs.

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