Category Archives: In Space Infrastructure

FISO: Reducing costs of space exploration with advanced in-space propulsion

The latest presentation to the Future In-Space Operations (FISO) study group is now posted in the FISO Working Group Presentations Archive. Both slides (pdf) and audio (mp3) are available for the talk, Reducing the Cost of Exploration using Near-Term Advanced In-Space Propulsion – Roger Myers, Aerojet – March 13, 2013.

A key part of the proposal is to use slow but highly efficient solar electric propulsion (SEP) systems for cargo and faster but a lot less efficient high thrust chemical (e.g. LOX/LH2) propulsion for crews.


FISO: Combined SEP-Chemical for manned Mars missions

The latest presentation to the Future In-Space Operations (FISO) study group is now posted in the FISO Working Group Presentations Archive. Both slides (pdf) and audio (mp3) are available for the talk, Combined SEP-Chemical for Piloted Mars Missions, Steve Oleson , NASA GRC – March 6, 2013.

Unfortunately, all the plans he discusses rely on the SLS vehicle, which will cost billions to fly and so there will be no funding left for projects like this.


The Comet threat to Mars + Stopping a comet heading for Earth + 2013 Planetary Defense Conference

Alan Boyle writes about the possibility that Comet 2013 A1 (aka Comet Siding Spring) might hit Mars and how this might affect attitudes on earth about the threat of comet and asteroid impacts on earth: ‘Marsageddon’ comet scenario adds to concerns about threats from space – Cosmic Log.

He also discusses the writeup – Warning Shots – Space Access Update #130 – 3/4/13, by Henry Vanderbilt of the Space Access Society, on whether we could prevent such a cometary hit if we only had two years of warning.


Michale Belfiore points to the 2013 IAA Planetary Defense Conference, 15-19 April, 2013 in Flagstaff, Arizona, USA, where such issues will be discussed: Planetary Defense Conference 2013 – Michael Belfiore.

Chelyabinsk event details + Euro/US asteroid intercept project

More details of the meteor fireball event over Chelyabinsk and the object that created it have been found in the subsequent studies:


If we are to ever deflect an asteroid on a collision course with earth, it would be good if there had been at least some basci tests of some techniques such as simply hitting an asteroid with an object and seeing if it as the effecst expected. Ed Wright talks about a ESA/Johns Hopkins project to do just such a test: ESA, Johns Hopkins Plan First Asteroid Intercept Mission –

More about the project here: Asteroid impact mission targets Didymos – ESA

AIDA is a low-budget international effort that would send two small craft to intercept a double target. While one probe smashes into the smaller asteroid at around 6.25 km/s, the other records what happens.

One effect would be a change in the orbital ballet of the two objects. AIDA is not intended to show how we could deflect an asteroid that threatens Earth but it would be a first step.



Update on the Russian meteor fireball event

Here are some more articles and resources about the meteor event over Russia today:

Here’s a Russian Today report on the event with lots of video clips along with some silly comments from the news persons:

Bill Cooke, head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office summarizes the event as follows:

  • It was not a shower of multiple objects but a single asteroid about 15 meters in diameter and weighing about 7000 metric tons.
  • It hit the atmosphere at 18 km/s (40k mph) and exploded into multipe pieces at an altitude of about 20-25 km (12-15 mi)
  • The explosion was equivalent to about 300 kilotons of TNT
  • The shockwave hit the ground causing buildings to shake and glass to break.
  • This asteroid was not a companion to the 2012 DA14 asteroid but on a completely different orbit

Here’s more of my post over at NewSpace Watch:

Some after effects:

Perhaps warnings like this one from Thursday will now be heeded: Ed Lu and Martin Rees: A Warning From the Asteroid Hunters –

Asteroid organizations have released messages:

* Ed Lu’s Message: Our Cosmic Challenge – B612 Foundation :

The B612 Foundation believes we should find threatening asteroids before they find us. Today’s meteor explosion over Chelyabinsk is a wake-up call that the Earth orbits the Sun in a shooting gallery of asteroids, and that these asteroids sometimes hit the Earth. Later today, a separate and larger asteroid, 2012 DA14, narrowly missed the Earth passing beneath the orbits of our communications satellites. We have the technology to deflect asteroids, but we cannot do anything about the objects we don’t know exist.

To date, less than 1% of asteroids larger than the one that leveled Tunguska in 1908 have been tracked. The B612 Foundation Sentinel Space Telescope, to be launched in 2018, will provide a comprehensive map of the locations and trajectories of threatening asteroids and will give humanity the decades of warning needed to prevent asteroid impacts with existing technology. By the end of its planned lifetime, Sentinel will have discovered well over 90% of the asteroids that could destroy entire regions of Earth on impact (those larger than 350ft in diameter) and more than 50% of the currently unknown DA14-like near-Earth asteroids.


* Russian meteorite update – Planetary Resources

In our previous update, we mentioned that many asteroids pass by Earth with little or no warning. We were not exaggerating.  Despite considerable progress in asteroid detection, only about one in ten close-approaching asteroids are known about ahead of time. While not every approaching asteroid may be detected, and with little warning not all can be prevented, in this case a little warning would have prevented many injuries, and quelled the panic that followed.

Today’s events, both with 2012 DA14 and the Russian meteorite, are a reminder that our Solar System is a crowded place. Today was unnerving indeed, and scary and unfortunate for those near Chelyabinsk.  We don’t know when the next one of these might appear, but we’re working to see it coming!


* Russian Meteor Impact Shows the Need for a Sentry Line of Asteroid Inspection Spacecraft – Deep Space Industries

McLean, VA – February 15 – Today’s impact in Russia and the near miss by asteroid 2012 DA14 should shock the world into creating a sentry line of spacecraft circling the Earth to intercept and evaluate incoming threats, Deep Space Industries proposed.

“The hundreds of people injured in northern Russia show it’s time to take action and no longer be passive about these threats,” said Rick Tumlinson, chairman of Deep Space Industries.

Deep Space Industries proposes establishing several sentry lines encircling Earth with small spacecraft able to dart after intruders to get close-in photos and data as they pass. Over time additional spacecraft able to grab samples for analysis on Earth would join the sentry lines.

Not all asteroids are the same, and to be ready to deflect one that’s on a dangerous trajectory the world needs to know more about their structure and composition. Many may be solid but all photos so far have shown gravel and rock piles. A defense plan assuming the wrong type could make matters worse.