Could NASA One Day Put Humans on an Asteroid?
One day, humans could be living on an asteroid. NASA just revealed a plan it has to take people to visit an asteroid when it is possible. This will be the first time the space agency sends humans outside of low Earth orbit since 1972's Apollo 17 mission, and people are stumped on how they'll do it.
NASA's Space Technology Roadmap is highlighting an asteroid mission as a 'key capability' for the future. The NASA website states that the plan to visit a nearby asteroid will probably be possible between 2070 and 2080 and could allow humanity to do something no one has done before.
Alex Controls, an artist who has worked with NASA and SpaceX, shared his vision of what this mission might look like to Mashable. He anticipates that the first crewed mission in 2073 will be to a small asteroid because it would be easier to reach and cheaper than a bigger asteroid. The crew would begin the mission on a NASA ship that had been up to this point prepping for other space missions, such as launching satellites and assembling space stations.
The plan has to move forward with a lot of technology the space industry is still developing, but NASA's roadmap outlines what needs to be done before humans can live on an asteroid. One of the key progress that has been noted in this ambitious mission is the recent launch of a space craft that will smash into an asteroid The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission will smash into an asteroid Dimorphos 11million miles from Earth and use a laser to map any potential damage.
The concept is to use this information to ensure that the space craft will function flawlessly once it's time to actually put a crew on the asteroid. The mission has been designed to help scientists learn what happens when a spaceship collides with an asteroid. If successful, researchers will be able to study the asteroid in more detail and learn how well a spacecraft and what technology it would take would survive hitting one. This would also see scientists get a better idea of asteroid composition and how to put people on a space rock for the first time.
The NASA roadmap also includes multiple other ideas such as: launching a satellite carrying astronauts into deep space, sending probes to investigate the early universe. You see, researchers who worked on the strategy are taking different approaches on how exactly they will achieve these goals. But the entire space community has come to the same conclusion that the vehicle NASA is building to replace its space shuttle should be able to carry astronauts further than low-Earth orbit.
Also, will be used as a blueprint for future space missions, which could include sending astronauts from Earth to an asteroid or another deep-space destination. The agency said it's likely we'll have the spacecraft and other capabilities needed in about 30 years.
There are many who question this plan and say that it is too risky. It also makes some people wonder why NASA would spend its time and money on an asteroid mission when there are other things they could be doing.
However, it’s not just NASA who is thinking about exploring our solar system. Elon Musk's SpaceX has also announced it will send probes to Mars by 2022 and put people on the Red Planet as early as 2024...as long as it can build the rocket for the mission first.
NASA is also working on building its own rockets and creating a spaceship that will make it quicker and less expensive to reach deep space. This can be seen in their plans with the James Webb Space Telescope.
NASA's Space Technology Roadmap is highlighting an asteroid mission as a 'key capability' for the future. The agency's plans, which are based on "a mix of existing and new developments," The first crewed mission to an asteroid could take place as soon as 2073, according to the analysis made by researchers. The spacecraft will probably be a small one, more like an unmanned space station.
There are also plans for sending astronauts to deep-space destinations beyond the moon, including the vicinity of Mars and possibly its surface, the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and even the planets.