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NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration is an ambitious plan for human exploration of the Moon, Mars, and beyond in the coming decades. While most current attention has been devoted to lunar exploration, as a precursor to eventual crewed missions to Mars, NASA is also exploring other high-value uses of the program’s new Orion spacecraft and Ares launch system, including taking astronauts to visit a near-Earth object (NEO), most likely an asteroid.

The notion of a piloted mission to an NEO was first discussed and analyzed during the Apollo era. The most recent study, by the Constellation Program’s Advanced Projects Office, examined the feasibility of sending the Orion crew capsule (also referred to as the Crew Exploration Vehicle, or CEV) to an NEO. This study performed a detailed analysis of a 90-day mission scenario to an asteroid, using four different launch scenarios. Depending on the specifications of the spacecraft and integrated components, an actual mission profile would include two or three astronauts on a 90- to 180-day spaceflight, including a 7- to 14-day stay at the NEO itself.


Related Documents

Piloted Orion Flight Feasibility Study
Presented at AIAA Space 2007 Conference

Into the Beyond: A Crewed Mission to an Near-Earth Object
Text | Slides

Related NASA Sites

Near Earth Object Program Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle Vision for Space Exploration

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