Friday, May 16, 2008

Million Mile Mission

The new Air & Space Magazine arrived yesterday with a cool cover story on a possible mission to visit a near-Earth asteroid using NASA's Constellation program hardware (specifically the Orion spacecraft). While Orion will be considerably roomier than the old Apollo command module, it would seem a bit cramped for a possibly six-month mission, even with only 2 or 3 crew members. Perhaps a Bigelow Sundancer inflatable could somehow be sent along for more living space? But asteroid enthusiasts with good credentials have studied this, and even with only the Orion, astronauts say they would sign up for it in a heartbeat, so who knows? It's definitely not funded at this point, but it surely would make sense to get some sort of practical experience intermediate between the Moon and a two-year Mars mission.

The article includes some nice paintings, but the illustration here was done with a couple of Orbiter add-ons. I can't get the links right now, but if anyone is interested, post a comment and I will find and post them when I have some free time and an internet connection, maybe Sunday in Brussels.

UPDATE: The asteroid is actually the core of Comet 67P from Brian Jones' ESA Rosetta add-on which is available on avsim.com (search for rosetta_v3.zip). I edited a Rosettta scenario file to replace the Rosetta with the Orion and to remove the comet's tail (coma) which is implemented as a "spacecraft" landed on the core object. The Orion add-on is a recent CEV version by "Francis Drake" found on his downloads page (Orion CEV 606 at bottom of list). I saw in a forum post that he is working on a newer version with the smaller "service module" shown in more recent Lockmart and NASA graphics, but I don't know the status of that.

2 comments:

Jacek Kupras said...

I'm interested. As always;)
Best regards.

francisdrake said...

Hi, the Orion CEV-606 development forum thread is at
http://orbiter-forum.com/showthread.php?t=1043&page=7

There is also a download link for those who whish to try it out. The addon is not finished, currently UMMU integration is going on.