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Astronauts may have lost the shuttle, but now have their eyes on asteroids
NASA kissed the end of shuttle exploration goodbye this year, but new plans are already on the horizon. NASA wants to send astronauts to an asteroid. Charles Bolden, NASA’s administrator, says this mission could save civilization from extinction like that of the dinosaurs. Bolden believes if they can land astronauts on an asteroid, they can figure out a way to change the potentially deadly asteroid’s direction.
However, astronomers predict that there are over 50,000 asteroids and only less than one percent can be accounted for. Also, in order to avoid such a collision, the asteroid that is to make the collision needs to be identified along with its exact location. With only one percent of 50,000 asteroids accountant for, which one and where it is can be a little tricky. How that is to be determined – NASA will have to get back with us on that one. Right now, they’re not sure as to which asteroid they should use as a ‘test’ subject to visit. This decision is vital, since it can take over a year and a half to visit an asteroid (based upon the location of one asteroid that is among those considered for visitation).
Another issue is getting the spacecraft and its parts out of the earth’s atmosphere. NASA would need to construct rockets powerful enough to penetrate through earth’s atmosphere. NASA is to have a design by the end of the summer. Congress gave a deadline of 2016 to have these rockets built and deployment ready.
Because asteroids have no gravity, landing on it is another problem that NASA faces. Everything from bungee cord devices to spider like webs has been considered but as to how to stick the landing – NASA will have to get back with us on that one. But everything needs to be launching ready by 2025 by presidential order. Meaning, the astronauts to attempt such a feat (which former Apollo astronauts and flight instructors aren’t showing much support for), the rockets, the space-craft itself, the kinks of getting through the earth’s atmosphere and sticking the landing, and all the other technical engineering details that are a little too intense for the rest of us - all need to be ready by 2025.
Reminiscent of Jerry Bruckheimer’s Armageddon movie – except NASA is trying to stop the threat before the threat is actually here. I would love to see a Steve Buscemi type astronaut on my six o’clock news in 2025 as the line up for the launch.