Author Topic: Asteroid hopping to Mars/other places?  (Read 1568 times)

Online Bubbinski

Asteroid hopping to Mars/other places?
« on: 01/29/2012 05:14 am »
I'm curious....have there been studies done on "asteroid hopping" - that is, launching a probe - or crewed spacecraft - to land on an asteroid flying close to earth and staying on that asteroid until it reaches a point near, say, Mars, then "hopping off" and going to Mars, and launching to another asteroid on the way back. 

Another application that came to my mind would be to launch a robotic lander from earth to a near earth asteroid, then fly from the NEA to an asteroid further out whose orbit took it closer to the outer solar system, and so on until you reached, say the vicinity of Uranus if the object came close enough.

I would imagine that the availability of suitable asteroids could be a difficult issue.  But is it practical or feasible?
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline Proponent

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Re: Asteroid hopping to Mars/other places?
« Reply #1 on: 01/29/2012 05:47 am »
What would be the advantage of such hopping?  If the asteroid is in an orbit that takes it from the vicinity of earth to the vicinity of Mars, then landing on it will require matching its velocity.  But if a probe has matched the asteroid's velocity, then it, like the asteroid, will be in an orbit taking it to the vicinity of Mars already.  In short, there's basically no advantage to hopping an asteroid to get to Mars or the outer solar system.

One might conceivably hard-land on the asteroid, thereby not having to fully match the asteroid's velocity.  But a hard-landing spacecraft has many constraints imposed on it, and at best the velocity savings is just a few hundred meters per second out of a total of several kilometers per second.

The only "study" of such a concept that I'm aware of is a silly piece by Taylor Dinerman in the Space Review a few years ago.
« Last Edit: 01/29/2012 05:51 am by Proponent »

Online Bubbinski

Re: Asteroid hopping to Mars/other places?
« Reply #2 on: 01/29/2012 05:57 am »
Ah ok....thanks.  Good point.  Need to brush up on my physics.

At least an asteroid would provide some living space and radiation protection if you hollowed it out but you'd have to bore tunnels through it and I don't imagine it would be easy.  There is another thread on hollowing out asteroids that I've been looking at.
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline revprez

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Re: Asteroid hopping to Mars/other places?
« Reply #3 on: 01/29/2012 01:25 pm »
I'm curious....have there been studies done on "asteroid hopping" - that is, launching a probe - or crewed spacecraft - to land on an asteroid flying close to earth and staying on that asteroid until it reaches a point near, say, Mars, then "hopping off" and going to Mars, and launching to another asteroid on the way back.

You'd have to have an asteroid in desired cycler and some means of rendezvousing with it with less propellant than needed to both match velocities with it and break away and rendezvous with your ultimate destination (assuming smacking into it at several km/s isn't an option, perhaps tether capture and release).  Otherwise, the asteroid might as well not even be there.
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Offline Sparky

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Re: Asteroid hopping to Mars/other places?
« Reply #4 on: 01/29/2012 06:56 pm »
I'm curious....have there been studies done on "asteroid hopping" - that is, launching a probe - or crewed spacecraft - to land on an asteroid flying close to earth and staying on that asteroid until it reaches a point near, say, Mars, then "hopping off" and going to Mars, and launching to another asteroid on the way back.

You'd have to have an asteroid in desired cycler and some means of rendezvousing with it with less propellant than needed to both match velocities with it and break away and rendezvous with your ultimate destination (assuming smacking into it at several km/s isn't an option, perhaps tether capture and release).  Otherwise, the asteroid might as well not even be there.

If it has enough mass, there might be some sort of gravity assist from the asteroid if you approached near enough without trying to land. But I doubt the benefit would outweigh the added cost of having to match velocity with the rock in the first place.

Offline Comga

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Re: Asteroid hopping to Mars/other places?
« Reply #5 on: 01/29/2012 11:36 pm »
If it has enough mass, there might be some sort of gravity assist from the asteroid if you approached near enough without trying to land. ....

No
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline Proponent

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Re: Asteroid hopping to Mars/other places?
« Reply #6 on: 03/14/2019 01:18 pm »
What would be the advantage of such hopping?  If the asteroid is in an orbit that takes it from the vicinity of earth to the vicinity of Mars, then landing on it will require matching its velocity.  But if a probe has matched the asteroid's velocity, then it, like the asteroid, will be in an orbit taking it to the vicinity of Mars already.  In short, there's basically no advantage to hopping an asteroid to get to Mars or the outer solar system.

One might conceivably hard-land on the asteroid, thereby not having to fully match the asteroid's velocity.  But a hard-landing spacecraft has many constraints imposed on it, and at best the velocity savings is just a few hundred meters per second out of a total of several kilometers per second.

The only "study" of such a concept that I'm aware of is a silly piece by Taylor Dinerman in the Space Review a few years ago.

I just came across Dinerman's ridiculous article in The Space Review.

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