Expeditions to Near Earth Objects


I have longed believed that Near Earth Objects (asteroids) make a far better early target for post Moon expeditions then distant Mars. Only modest rocketry is required to reach them, the shorter mission time means radiation problems are reduced. Also it would be an excellent way to test crews and equipment and the asteroids are of scientific interest in their own right. Mars has two asteroid type moons which could be used as bases for surface activities so NEOs can be stepping stones to Mars. Asteroids may even contain that most important of all resource, water.
Some people at NASA appear to have come to the same conclusion because NASA hired Digital Space to design a simulation of a NEO expedition.

The simulation is based on the Orion and Ares hardware being developed right now. As yet there is no firm plan to send anyone to an asteroid, the presentation is meant to stir discussion. It remains to be seen if these ideas ever reach reality. After all NEO expeditions could have been done years ago with Apollo era technology but the United States decided to relegate its Apollo heritage to museums.

Have a look at the simulation video.

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