NASA sees enthusiastic response to asteroid call for ideas

NASA has received more than 400 responses to its request for information (RFI) on the agency's asteroid initiative, Deputy Administrator Lori Garver announced Friday.

"Under our plan, we're increasing the identification, tracking and exploration of asteroids, and the response to this initiative has been gratifying," said Garver, speaking at the Space Frontier Foundation's NewSpace 2013 conference in San Jose, Calif. "The aerospace industry, innovative small businesses and citizen scientists have many creative ideas and strategies for carrying out our and helping us to protect our home planet from dangerous near-Earth objects."

Released June 18, the RFI was the first opportunity for industry and other potential partners, including private individuals, to offer ideas on planning for NASA's mission to redirect an asteroid for exploration by astronauts and the agency's asteroid grand challenge.

Garver noted about a third of the responses were in areas relevant to the asteroid grand challenge, which is to identify all asteroid threats to human population and know what to do about them. All other responses were related to the five mission components.

All the responses are being evaluated and rated. NASA will explore the highly rated responses for inclusion in future planning during a public workshop in September.

Grand challenges are ambitious goals on a national or global scale that capture the imagination and demand advances in innovation and breakthroughs in science and technology. NASA's asteroid grand challenge will support planetary defense by use of multi-disciplinary collaborations and a variety of partnerships with other government agencies, international partners, industry, academia, and citizen scientists.

The asteroid grand challenge complements NASA's mission to find and capture a near-Earth asteroid, redirect it to a stable lunar orbit and send humans to study it. The asteroid redirect mission is included in President Obama's fiscal year 2014 budget request for NASA, and leverages the agency's progress on its Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft and cutting-edge technology development. The mission is one step in NASA's plan to send humans to Mars in the 2030s.

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NASA announces Asteroid Grand Challenge

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Jul 26, 2013
My favorite method of capturing a small asteroid:

Use a loop of flexible banding that you could reel out like a tape measure (reel it out from both ends, so you have two winches for redundancy) and then slowly draw it back in around the asteroid. If you don't get a good hold the first time, expand it back out, rotate and try again. Tie it off just like they do banding around packing pallets. Then spin 90 degrees and wrap it again to get a criss-cross hold on it. (rinse and repeat as many times as you like) Hook a universal docking collar (like the one on the ISS) to the banding straps and then you own it. You would have total control authority. You could spin it, push it, pull it, twist it, whatever.

Giant bags, nets, and harpoons are needlessly risky, difficult to get a second try if your first shot misses or gets tangled, and too weak/loose to have total control authority.

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