While in Hyderabad, India for the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), I was fortunate to see Dr. David J. Korsmeyer (Chief, Intelligent Systems Division, NASA Ames Research Center) give a presentation on NASA's recent humans to NEO study.
Paper Number: IAC-07-B3.5.06
Paper Title: Into the Beyond: A Crewed Mission to a Near Earth Object
Selections from the paper:
The most recent assessment has been undertaken by the Advanced Projects Office within NASA’s Constellation Program. This particular study examined the feasibility of sending NASA’s new Orion spacecraft (also referred to as the Crew Exploration Vehicle, or CEV) to a NEO. Depending on the specifications of spacecraft and integrated components, a mission profile would include two or three astronauts on a 90- to 180-day spaceflight; including a 7- to 14-day stay at the NEO itself. These missions to NEOs provide Exploration with an excellent suite of benefits: operational experience beyond cislunar space; risk reduction for space hardware; confidence building for future mission scenarios; in situ resource utilization evaluation; as well as a rich scientific return.
The Advanced Projects Office within NASA’s Constellation Program sponsored the most recent official NASA study. This six-month (Sept 2006 – Feb 2007) study was conducted by a team led from NASA Ames Research Center. That team included members from NASA Johnson Space Center (including astronaut Ed Lu), the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA Headquarters, and former astronaut Tom Jones, the author of two previous NEO studies. The study examined the feasibility of sending a CEV to a NEO.
The current study performed a detailed analysis of a 90-day mission scenario to an asteroid. In order to minimize the impact to current CEV development and to maximize the applicability and validity of this NEO mission to Constellation test objectives, an unmodified Block II CEV and unmodified Ares launch vehicles were assumed. The asteroid 2000 SG344 was used as a placeholder for an appropriate mission target that has yet to be found from the NEO survey. This mission analysis was performed using a single Ares 1 launch of a CEV with an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) launch of a Centaur-class upper stage to act as a NEO injection stage. The overall scope of the mission. The trajectories shown in Figure 2 show the orbital elements of the asteroid 2000 SG344 in 2069, which is representative of the proper relative position of the NEO to the Earth.
Link: AIAA Paper (first page): R. Landis, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX; D. Korsmeyer, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA; P. Abell, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX; and D. Adamo, Trajectory Consultant, Houston, TX, AIAA-2007-6168, AIAA SPACE 2007 Conference and Exposition, Long Beach, California, Sep. 18-20, 2007.
Link: Space.com article
Link: Visual Simulation by DigitalSpace
Link: LPI Abstract: SCIENTIFIC EXPLORATION OF NEAR-EARTH OBJECTS VIA THE CREW EXPLORATION VEHICLE, Lunar and Planetary Science XXXVIII (2007)
Link: Related paper from the 2007 Planetary Defense Conference: NEAR-EARTH ASTEROID RENEDEZVOUS MISSIONS WITH THE ORION CREW EXPLORATION VEHICLE
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