NASA Finds Human Asteroid Missions Feasible

Discovery Space’s Dave Mosher has an interesting Q&A with Robert Landis, an engineer at NASA’s Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston, about prospects for a human mission to an asteroid. Landis led a feasibility study that explored the use of modified Constellation hardware to visit these giant orbiting mountains.

The interview was done by IM. Landis response as NASA for NEOs. An excerpt follows:

Dave on Earth (11:33 AM): Did you get a lot of blank stares at first? Because, frankly, it sounds kind of crazy. Not Armageddon-the-movie crazy, but somewhere on that path.

NASA for NEOs (11:34 AM): Our team looked at NEOs as another destination for exploration, and a baby step towards Mars.

And yes, several blank stares at first! As for lunacy: Acknowledge the threat mitigation techniques we could learn by exploring NEOs. Those kinds of movies come to mind and even though many of us groan about them, Hollywood did something better than NASA could: it raised the level of consciousness of the potential NEO threat to a higher level.

Dave on Earth (11:36 AM): Right. But this feasibility study… it came out possible to actually do this?

NASA for NEOs (11:38 AM): The feasibility study was only that. We asked a simple question: using the Constellation hardware and architecture: Could you go after NEOs? The simple answer came back, “Yes — and by the way, here are nine NEOs that could be examined between 2015 and 2030.”

Read the full interview.