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  Exploration: Asteroids, Moon and Mars
  Orion to the Asteroids

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Author Topic:   Orion to the Asteroids

Posts: 235
From: Madisonville, Louisiana, U.S.A.
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 12-27-2006 12:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstronautBrian   Click Here to Email AstronautBrian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I found this headline article at very interesting. It never occurred to me that Orion could also be used for a manned rendezvous mission with an asteroid. It sounds like a great idea to me. The more exploration, the better.

Orion Hardware Reviewed For Human Asteroid Flight

Progress is being made on defining a human mission to an asteroid. Experts at several NASA centers are sketching out a prospective piloted stopover at an asteroid--a trek that could return samples from a targeted space rock as well as honing astronaut proficiency and test needed equipment for other space destinations.

At the heart of such a mission is drawing upon the technology of NASA's Constellation initiative--the overarching program that is gearing up to extend human presence at the Moon, on Mars and beyond. One key ingredient is the Orion spacecraft--a post-Space Shuttle vehicle now under design to thrust crews further than low Earth orbit.


Posts: 4803
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Jan 2001

posted 12-22-2007 12:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This could take place before the Moon landings:

Popular Science: NASA's New Target

Here we are, nearly eight years into the 21st century, and the most spectacular manned mission NASA can pull off is a trip to the International Space Station, a mere 210 miles above the Earth. Even the most ambitious part of NASA's current plans for human spaceflight involves visiting a celestial body we've already been to: the moon. Astronauts, space buffs and an unimpressed public hunger for space exploration that's more dramatic, more heroic, more new. Something like, say, landing astronauts on a distant rock hurtling through space at 15 miles per second.


Posts: 1705
From: Newnan GA (USA)
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 05-18-2008 11:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
An interesting article in the new Air & Space Smithsonian magazine talks about a proposal to use Orion to visit an asteroid as a building-block step for a trip to Mars.

Astronaut Tom Jones says that by 2020, China and/or Russia may already be on the moon (debatable). Instead of going there, Orion could wave on the way by and say, "Been there, done that" on it's way to visit an asteroid.

The entire text of the article is available at the link provided for those who are not subscribers.

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 08-17-2009 10:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Spaceflight Now: Dual Orion capsules studied for manned asteroid missions
A manned asteroid mission using two Orion spacecraft, docked nose-to-nose to form a 50-ton deep space vehicle, is being studied by Lockheed Martin Space Systems as an alternative to resumption of U.S. lunar landing missions.

The Orion asteroid mission concept is being unveiled just as the Presidential committee reviewing U.S. human space flight is citing asteroid missions after 2020 as a less costly alternative to NASA's proposed lunar landing infrastructure. Results of the review will be briefed to President Obama by Norman Augustine, committee chairman, by the end of August.

The docked Orion configuration as shown in a Lockheed Martin graphic would have a total of four large solar arrays and two service modules as well as two command modules for extra space on the several week flight. Single 25-ton Orion spacecraft would first be used to replace the space shuttle for servicing the International Space Station. But use of them for asteroid missions and other deep space sites would maximize utilization of the Orion system if lunar landings are deleted as a near term goal.


Posts: 222
From: Bratislava, Slovakia
Registered: Apr 2009

posted 08-18-2009 12:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lasv3   Click Here to Email Lasv3     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The above mentioned Spaceflight Now article is very interesting, the purpose of the asteroid mission makes sense - among others to study the asteroids' composition and ways how to protect us against the possible collision sometimes in the future (hopefully we won't need it).

What surprises me is the mention of the "several weeks mission". Of course the time period can be given in any time unit, but wouldn't "several months" be more precise? It depends on the asteroid target of course but what could be the minimum time to visit - and explore - some of the known bigger asteroids?


Posts: 4046
From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 08-18-2009 12:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The interesting part of the article comes at the end: the "large service modules" attached to each capsule. And this raises a lot of questions.

Reusable modules to be left in Earth orbit? Launched with Orion? Or separately? What launch capacity would be required (Ares I, V or something in between)? Two Orion launches in a short timeframe - how (I thought only one pad was to be used to launch Orion)? etc.

Jay Chladek

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 08-18-2009 03:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Theoretically if one of the goals for Constellation, which is quicker pad turnaround time is achieved, then it should be possible to send two Orions up in quick fashion with a turnaround time of a couple days. Only other option I could see would be to launch one modified Orion unmanned in a parking orbit with the extra provisions for the mission (either Ares 1 or V, likely 1 though) and then send up the normal manned Orion later to dock with it.

As for the length of mission, that would entirely depend on the target asteroid's orbit. There are plenty of Earth orbit crossing asteroids that might be close enough to reach in a few "weeks".

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