LUXEMBOURG CITY (Luxembourg Government PR) — The Luxembourg Government forges ahead with the SpaceResources.lu initiative by presenting an overall strategy to be implemented progressively for the exploration and commercial utilization of resources from Near Earth Objects (NEOs), such as asteroids. Amongst the key actions undertaken is the establishment of an appropriate legal and regulatory framework for space resource utilization activities to provide private companies and investors with a secure legal environment.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The global space economy is growing, generating more than $300 billion a year in space-related activities, and attracting new, diverse participants and investors. A recent study also found more private money invested in commercial space development in 2015 than in the previous 15 years combined.
NASA has selected six new research proposals to understand the effective drivers of investments in the space economy.
Somewhere out there in the cosmos, there’s a giant rock with Earth’s name on it. Despite the danger, NASA’s effort to identify potentially dangerous near Earth objects and figure out what to do about them is disorganized and poorly managed, an internal audit has found.
“NASA has organized its NEO Program under a single Program Executive who manages a loosely structured conglomerate of research activities that are not well integrated and lack overarching Program oversight, objectives, and established milestones to track progress,” according to an audit issued Monday by NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).
Aviation Week reports that European space officials will spend the summer reviewing the prospects of NASA’s asteroid retrieval mission even as the proposal struggles to gain support in Congress:
Jean Jacques Dordain, director general of the European Space Agency (ESA), told Bolden he has set up a multi-agency working group headed by ESA human-spaceflight chief Thomas Reiter “tasked to elaborate a coherent approach with regard to your new initiative.”
Representatives of the national space agencies of France, Germany, Italy and the U.K. will participate in the working group, with a report due from ESA to NASA in September, Dordain told Bolden in a June 20 letter.
“[W]e welcome this new initiative and are ready to support discussions on potential cooperation that would strengthen ongoing and future space exploration activities to be performed in an international framework,” Dordain wrote.
However, he noted that ESA’s human spaceflight strategy includes the International Space Station in low Earth orbit, the Moon and Mars. NASA’s idea is to capture a small near-Earth asteroid, nudge it into high retrograde lunar orbit with solar electric propulsion, and send astronauts in an Orion crew vehicle to study it.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA announced Tuesday a Grand Challenge focused on finding all asteroid threats to human populations and knowing what to do about them.
The challenge is a large-scale effort that will use multi-disciplinary collaborations and a variety of partnerships with other government agencies, international partners, industry, academia, and citizen scientists. It complements NASA’s recently announced mission to redirect an asteroid and send humans to study it.
The prospects of a robotic manufacturing base operating off the Earth is not as far-fetched as it used to be according to a study published by a team of NASA researchers led by a Kennedy Space Center physicist.
Because asteroids are loaded with minerals that are rare on Earth, near-Earth asteroids and the asteroid belt could become the mining centers for remotely operated excavators and processing machinery. In 20 years, an industry barely imagined now could be sending refined materials, rare metals and even free, clean energy to the Earth from asteroids and other bodies.
Space News is reporting the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS) is calling for the development of an international network of ground-based telescope to to track potentially dangerous asteroids and other objects.
The NEO study group recommended coordinating investments already made or under way in ground telescopes and the occasional satellite and sending the NEO data to a central clearinghouse, which would then forward them to national space and civil protection agencies as needed. The study group was chaired by Sergio Camacho, secretary general of the Regional Center for Space Science and Technology Education for Latin America and the Caribbean, which is based in Mexico….
Bellevue, Wash., April 16, 2013 (Planetary Resources PR) – Planetary Resources, Inc. announced today that Bechtel has joined their core group of investors and will be a collaborative partner in helping Planetary Resources achieve its long-term mission, which is to mine near-Earth asteroids for raw materials, ranging from elements used in rocket fuel to precious metals, through the development of innovative and cost-effective robotic exploration technologies. Currently, Planetary Resources has multiple contracts to develop miniaturized and responsive technologies with far-reaching applications to space assessment, accessibility and resource recovery.
Washington, DC, April 11, 2013 (NSS PR) — The National Space Society (NSS) applauds the new NASA budget item that would provide close to $100 million for a mission to rendezvous with a small asteroid and move it into orbit around the Moon where it could later be visited by astronauts.
“An asteroid capture mission is a tremendously important mission, and one that could not be more relevant to the challenges our civilization faces today,” said Mark Hopkins, Chairman of the NSS Executive Committee. “Robotic asteroid capture is the first step to exploiting the vast material resources of the solar system for a hopeful and prosperous future for mankind.”
NASA has selected Arkyd Astronautics, the fully-owned subsidiary of the asteroid-mining company Planetary Resources, for a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase I contract for work on advanced software to better guide robotic spacecraft in their exploration of and sample return missions from near Earth objects.
“A real-time convex optimizer named COARSE (Convex Optimizer for Asteroid Rendezvous and Sampling Return) is proposed in order to efficiently guide path planning operations as well as spacecraft guidance and control,” according to the proposal summary. “COARSE consists of a series of high level goals with specific set of execution steps, rather than complex interaction with ground control. This proposal plans to develop and simulate a basic optimizer for the purpose of a robotic spacecraft in proximity operations to an asteroid for a sample return mission, and implement in a spacecraft avionics software environment.”
Problem: If humanity is to move off Earth and become an interplanetary species, it will need an economic reason to do so.
Solution: Near-earth asteroids contain (literally) trillions of dollars worth of resources and materials that could be harvested and brought back to Earth. A number of them are also energetically easier to get to than the surface of the Moon. That tremendous bounty creates a huge incentive for the private sector to create the requisite detection, propulsion and harvesting technology to capture these precious metals and minerals. Technology: Planetary resources led by Peter Diamandis and Eric Anderson is developing the technology and spacecraft to detect, harvest, capture and bring back these resources from Near-Earth asteroids.
HOUSTON, TX, February 20 (DSI PR) — Deep Space Industries announced that astronomer and asteroid expert Dr. John Lewis will assume the role of Chief Scientist for the firm, whose goal is the exploration, harvesting and processing of space resources, such as asteroids. Author of such seminal works in the field as the books “Rain of Iron and Ice” and “Mining the Sky,” Dr. Lewis is considered to be one of the the world’s pre-eminent asteroid experts.
“We are thrilled that John decided to join us in our quest to harvest space resources,” said Deep Space Chairman Rick Tumlinson. “He has been a hero and mentor of mine and the whole team. Having such a vote of confidence from the guy who literally wrote the books on the subject means a lot to us, our investors and potential customers, let alone the wisdom and knowledge he brings to the table.”
The Chinese space probe Chang’e 2 spacecraft snapped this image of the asteroid Toutatis.
A series of radar images of the asteroid are shown in the video below.
Video Caption: With optical telescopes, it’s difficult to make out the surface features of asteroid Toutatis. Radar gives us a different picture. On Dec. 12 and 13, 2012, scientists pointed NASA’s Goldstone Solar System Radar precisely on the asteroid while it was over four million miles/6.9 million kilometers away. Using the bounced radar signals scientists assembled these “images” showing the surface features of Toutatis, an asteroid measuring about 3 miles long (4.8 km). The orbit of Toutatis is well understood. An analysis indicates there is zero possibility of an Earth impact over the entire interval over which its motion can be accurately computed, which is about the next four centuries.
Bruce Betts of the Planetary Society is blogging from the Planetary Defense Conference in Granada, Spain. He reports that the winners of the society’s Apophis Mission Design Competition are presenting their plans to rendezvous with the Apophis asteroid.