The Cry Baby is on sabbatical ....

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Scientists search for asteroid to land on

 Asteroid 951 Gaspra Credit: NASA
The Orion spacecraft, which was initially meant to return humans to the moon until the project was axed by President Obama, is now being relaunched as a docking vehicle, that will allow astronauts to fly to and from the International Space Station. But there are bigger plans for the Orion. NASA is hoping a pair of Orion spacecrafts can be used to support a manned mission to an asteroid.

Since Obama last year outlined the goal of sending astronauts to an asteroid by 2015, scientists have been trying to figure out exactly where the mission should be going to. There are more than 7,000 known near-Earth objects, but it is still unclear which would be suitable for astronauts to land on. Many have unsuitable terrain or are spinning rapidly. "Right now we only have a few targets in our catalog. We need a lot more to provide us with maximum mission flexibility," former NASA astronaut Tom Jones said. "It’s time to get on with this search."

"By 2025 we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crew missions beyond the moon into deep space,"
Obama said at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in April 2010. "So we’ll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history. By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to earth, and a landing on Mars will follow."   Read more here.

This artist's illustration showing asteroid mission and NASA's Orion spacecraft  Credit: Lockheed Martin


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