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  Exploration: Asteroids, Moon and Mars
  [Discuss] NASA's Orion Asteroid Redirect Mission (Page 2)

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Author Topic:   [Discuss] NASA's Orion Asteroid Redirect Mission
SpaceAholic
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posted 06-19-2013 08:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Young is not stating he is not in favor of the returning to the moon - he is saying that if Mars is the priority then a lunar program is unnecessary.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-19-2013 08:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Watching today's testimony (and not just reading the prepared remarks), the message was clear from both Young and Squyres: Mars should be the priority, and no other destinations should be considered (other than cis-lunar space, as a shake-out cruise for Orion) until NASA puts forth a roadmap to Mars. Congress, nor the White House, should be setting interim milestones or other destinations for human missions.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-20-2013 10:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
At a meeting in Rome Thursday (June 20), NASA Administrator Charles Bolden met with Italian Space Agency (ASI) President Enrico Saggese.
Bolden and Saggese also discussed NASA's plans for a new asteroid initiative, previously announced in President Obama's fiscal year 2014 budget proposal. Saggese expressed the strong interest of Italy for the initiative and welcomed the opportunity to discuss potential ASI participation in a long-term exploration strategy.

Blackarrow
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posted 06-20-2013 04:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The very idea of abandoning the Moon is absurd, ridiculous and shortsighted.

The Moon stares down at us. It dominates our night sky. It is not a point of light, it is a disc, a substantial place, a place which constantly beckons to us, a place which we started to understand, but need to study in much greater detail. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but in my humble opinion the highly desirable plans to visit Mars at some future time absolutely must not get in the way of the necessity of returning to, fully exploring, and identifying the resources of our space-sibling.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-20-2013 05:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Clementine, Lunar Prospector and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (not to mention a number of international probes) have together produced a rather comprehensive map of the moon's resources.

And no one is suggesting abandoning the moon. To the contrary, NASA is suggesting that the moon should be explored — by commercial and international entities, with NASA's help. More than four decades later, the U.S. government shouldn't be the only entity capable of exploring and exploiting the moon.

The U.S. is however, the only country that is going to send humans to Mars. As Charles Bolden correctly said (and I'm paraphrasing from memory), if NASA is not going to Mars, than no one is going.

Returning this thread to its original topic, I still fail to understand the objection to the asteroid mission.

The retrieval part of the mission is a robotics mission — it competes with Mars rovers and probes to Jupiter, not human tended lunar outposts or Mars colonies. It is a technology demonstrator that combines advanced propulsion and robotics technologies in a way such that its components will have other uses in space, too.

The crewed mission is a shake-out cruise for the Orion crew module. Why is orbiting the moon for four days seen as a better target than a captured asteroid? There is no lunar science or discoveries to be made; as mentioned LRO and previous probes have covered that territory several times over. Whereas a mission to a captured asteroid would not only give astronauts hands-on experience working with sample collection, but also navigational experience and (presumably) new robotics maneuvering experience as well.

SpaceAholic
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posted 09-12-2013 02:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
AFP: NASA identifies three asteroids for potential capture
The US space agency has narrowed its hunt for an asteroid to capture to three, NASA said.

The asteroids fit the requirements of being between seven to 10 meters (yards) in size, and further study should be able to narrow the choice even more, scientists said at a conference in San Diego, California.

"We have two to three which we will characterize in the next year and if all goes well... those will be valid candidates that could be certified targets," said Paul Chodas, senior scientist at the NASA Near-Earth Object Program Office.

Fra Mauro
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posted 09-13-2013 08:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The asteroid mission is seen by those who oppose it as a one-shot deal, not as a building block in a long-term program, as the ISS is. In addition, it is viewed as busywork for NASA, as it was not originally in the Administration's space vision. Throwing them a bone, so to speak. People may be able to shoot down these objections, but they are there nonetheless.

328KF
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posted 01-20-2014 09:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It appears that Congress and the President are having second thoughts about the "asteroid re-direct" concept. While the newly approved budget gives SLS more money than requested, it defers any commitment to the mission.

From SpaceflightNow.com:

Congress gave NASA a funding level just shy of the White House's request of $17.72 billion, but the appropriation pads the space agency's deep space exploration programs, setting the Orion multipurpose crew vehicle's budget at $1.2 billion and the Space Launch System's funding line at $1.6 billion, more than $200 million more than NASA said it needed to meet a 2017 launch date for an unmanned test flight.

In a legislative report accompanying the budget, Congress refused to commit to NASA's proposed asteroid redirect mission to retrieve a 500-ton rock from solar orbit, guide it around the moon with a robotic spacecraft, then send astronauts to visit it aboard Orion crew capsules. Lawmakers wrote that NASA needs to justify the asteroid initiative and provide detailed cost estimates before winning congressional support.

The report accompanying the budget stated this about the asteroid redirect mission (ARM):
While the ARM is still an emerging concept, NASA has not provided Congress with satisfactory justification materials such as detailed cost estimates or impacts to ongoing missions. The completion of significant preliminary activities is needed to appropriately lay the groundwork for the ARM prior to NASA and Congress making a long-term commitment to this mission concept.

Fra Mauro
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posted 01-23-2014 08:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sounds like the enthusiasm for this mission is dwindling.

cspg
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posted 01-23-2014 10:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So it's ok to fund the car but not the road/destination (or vice-versa)?

SpaceAholic
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posted 01-23-2014 11:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The "car" can be utilized to establish an enduring lunar program.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-23-2014 11:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We're talking about a single Orion mission, not a program. ARM does not negate a future "enduring lunar program."

If EM-1 does not go to an asteroid, then it orbits around the moon four times and returns to Earth.

The choice at hand is where EM-1 goes, not what Orion is used for into the future.

SpaceAholic
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posted 01-23-2014 12:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
EM-1 resources compete against other courses of action - hence the relevance.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-23-2014 12:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The budget for EM-1 sans ARM is not enough to establish a lunar program and there is no talk by anyone about substantially increasing NASA's budget to make up for the difference (even by those not in favor of ARM).

As such, the choice is still where EM-1 flies, not what future destinations might be possible.

SkyMan1958
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posted 08-21-2014 04:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was watching a show dealing with asteroids on the Science Channel last night. I was amazed to hear in the section devoted to the asteroid capture mission that the spacecraft (which I assume would be Orion) is too small to carry EMU suits, and that NASA is planning to use a modified space shuttle launch suit, which given that it's just a gas bag has serious capability issues. Has anyone heard about this before?

I can't imagine that Orion couldn't bring along a couple EMU EVA suits for the astronauts to work in while tied up to a captured asteroid... or at least modified A7L type suits. Using a space suit that you are planning to do serious work in, without internal architecture, in the 21st Century sounds crazy to me.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-21-2014 05:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For background on the MACES (Modified ACES) suits to be used on Orion, see: Spacesuit design and testing for Orion missions
quote:
Originally posted by SkyMan1958:
I can't imagine that Orion couldn't bring along a couple EMU EVA suits...
It's not just an issue of packing a couple of EMUs (which are volume- and mass-challenged inside Orion) but also the support hardware needed to pressurize and use the EMUs in space. The MACES builds off the space shuttle launch and entry suit, which itself has a history dating back to Gemini.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-17-2014 04:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA held a review yesterday (Dec. 16) to decide between retrieving a small asteroid (Option A) or retrieving a large boulder off a large asteroid (Option B).

The review found that both mission designs were feasible but more information was needed about the complexity of Option B. Therefore, the decision between the two options was deferred until the end of February.

There are currently three validated asteroid candidates for the boulder option: Itokawa (the asteroid visited by JAXA's Hayabusa), Bennu (the asteroid to be visited by NASA's OSIRIS-REx) and 2008 EV5.

The three valid candidates so far for the small asteroid concept are 2009 BD, 2011 MD and 2013 EC20.

NASA associate administrator Robert Lightfoot said today that in addition to making the decision between the boulder and asteroid in February, the agency should be able to set a more specific launch date for the mission at that time.

Headshot
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posted 12-21-2014 12:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To me, "B" is a not very attractive option. Any boulder resting on the surface may not be indigenous to the asteroid. It may have formed elsewhere and been caught in the asteroid's gravity well during a too close approach. Sampling a random boulder will also not provide many clues as to the composition and structure of the asteroid either.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-21-2014 12:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Keep in mind, this is not a science-driven mission. The asteroid will be studied as a result of the endeavor, but the scientific benefits of one option over the other is not driving the decision.

That said, the scientists who I have heard speak on this subject prefer Option B. They say that being able to choose a boulder off a large asteroid is more attractive for study than bringing back a small asteroid.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-25-2015 06:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA has decided to go with "Option B," retrieving a boulder off an of an asteroid. And though the specific target won't be decided until 2019, they now have a leading candidate for the 2020 mission:
"For 2008 EV5, which we have identified as the candidate we're doing our detailed [mission] design against, [it] has not been visited by spacecraft and there are no plans [to do so] until we get there with the ARM spacecraft, if that is what we choose as the target for the mission," Lindley Johnson, NASA's Near Earth Object program executive, told reporters. "But it has been extensively observed [to determine] it is a carbonaceous Type-C asteroid, which is of particular interest to scientists because of the volatiles and elements we know to be in those types of asteroids."

"We've a very good idea of its size, shape, spin dynamics and the potential existence of the right-size boulders on its surface," Johnson said.

SpaceAngel
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posted 03-26-2015 01:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAngel   Click Here to Email SpaceAngel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is it for certain that NASA will go for Option "B"?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-26-2015 01:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, the decision was made at a mission concept review on Tuesday (March 24).

328KF
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posted 03-30-2015 01:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nothing but crickets chirping over this "big announcement." Is there anyone left who really supports this mission architecture?

The asteroid mission concept as originally envisioned involved astronauts going out to an asteroid in its' natural location. Apparently that was too hard for NASA. Then they decided to drag one back to lunar orbit. Apparently that was too hard, too. Now we're left with grabbing a boulder off the asteroid and bringing it back?

If the rock sample is the real intent of the mission (it wasn't) why not just bring it all the way back to LEO? Have SpaceX or somebody devise a plan to bring it to ISS and study it there.

This new concept does even less to get us to Mars than the original plans did, and those didn't have much to offer either. Why does NASA keep lowering the bar?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-30-2015 02:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With Option B, the chances of mission success increase (multiple chances at grabbing a boulder rather than one chance at bagging an asteroid). Plus the mission has gained robotics useful for a Mars mission, a planetary protection demonstration and enabled greater science given the ability to choose a specific boulder.
quote:
Originally posted by 328KF:
Is there anyone left who really supports this mission architecture?
Tom Jones continues to advocate for ARM, as the alternative is to direct funds to unmanned missions.
"If you're not doing something in the mid-2020s, you have stretched out the advance of NASA astronauts into deep space by such a long period, what I fear is that people will lose interest. You'll wind up shutting things down."
Rep. John Culberson has also recently spoken out in favor of the mission for its advancement of solar-electric propulsion.
"[T]he great value" of an Asteroid Redirect Mission is “development of the first interstellar rocket propulsion system that would carry us to Alpha Centauri and beyond...
ARM doesn't need to be a perfect mission; it doesn't even need to a very good one. It just needs to be achievable on the briefest timeline within the confines of an already restrictive budget. We need to stop planning and re-planning and just fly.

328KF
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posted 03-30-2015 06:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Alpha Centauri? Really? So now this increasingly irrelevant mission is being endorsed because SEP is going to get us to another star? If you want to further prove out that technology you don't need an $1.5 billion asteroid chunk mission to do it.

Regardless of how inconvenient it might seem, I think the time to re-evaluate this mission is not far off. It appears more and more like NASA is trying to find reasons to justify the thing, and they're not doing a very good job of communicating it to the public.

Rather than having humans fly toward a target, we're going to bring the target, no wait, a small PIECE of the target, to a more suitable spot for study. Never mind that the trip to this location is probably 90% of the way back to Earth and could easily be collected without EM-2.

I wish somebody at HQ would stop saluting and start speaking up about how ridiculous this whole idea has become.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-30-2015 06:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by 328KF:
a small PIECE of the target
I don't know if I would call a 13-foot-wide boulder small, but there wasn't a tremendous difference in size between the boulder and small asteroid targets. The targets for Option A were all less than double the size of the boulder now being pursued.

No one has ever attempted to return anything more than soil samples from an asteroid. Regardless the size of the boulder, it will be a feat of robotics and engineering if it succeeds. Were it pitched solely as a flagship robotic science mission I doubt we would be having this debate.

But for whatever reason, if science isn't the driving factor but technology demonstration is, it's suddenly not good enough. Some would actually prefer Orion fly astronauts to empty space rather than even entertain the idea of working with an asteroid, of any size.


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