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Asteroid Return Mission Feasibility StudyThis paper describes an investigation into the technological feasibility of finding, characterizing, robotically capturing, and returning an entire Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) to the International Space Station (ISS) for scientific investigation, evaluation of its resource potential, determination of its internal structure and other aspects important for planetary defense activities, and to serve as a testbed for human operations in the vicinity of an asteroid. Reasonable projections suggest that several dozen candidates NEAs in the size range of interest (approximately 2-m diameter) will be known before the end of the decade from which a suitable target could be selected. The conceptual mission objective is to return an approximately 10,000-kg asteroid to the ISS in a total flight time of approximately 5 years using a single Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle. Preliminary calculations indicate that this could be accomplished using a solar electric propulsion (SEP) system with high-power Hall thrusters and a maximum power into the propulsion system of approximately 40 kW. The SEP system would be used to provide all of the post-launch delta V. The asteroid would have an unrestricted Earth return Planetary Protection categorization, and would be curated at the ISS where numerous scientific and resource utilization experiments would be conducted. Asteroid material brought to the ground would be curated at the NASA Johnson Space Center. This preliminary study identified several areas where additional work is required, but no show stoppers were identified for the approach that would return an entire 10,000-kg asteroid to the ISS in a mission that could be launched by the end of this decade.
Document ID
20150006938
Document Type
Conference Paper
External Source(s)
Authors
Brophy, John R.
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Gershman, Robert
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Landau, Damon
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Polk, James
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Porter, Chris
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Yeomans, Don
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Allen, Carlton
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Williams, Willie
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Asphaug, Erik
(California Univ. Santa Cruz, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
April 29, 2015
Publication Date
July 31, 2011
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Science And Exploration
Astrodynamics
Cybernetics, Artificial Intelligence And Robotics
Meeting Information
Meeting: AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference & Exhibit
Location: San Diego, CA
Country: United States
Start Date: July 31, 2011
End Date: August 3, 2011
Sponsors: Society of Automotive Engineers, Inc., American Society of Mechanical Engineers, American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics, American Society for Engineering Education
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Other
Keywords
near Earth asteriods (NEA)
solar electric propulsion (SEP)
asteriod return
ion propulsion

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