Recently the current U.S. presidential administration directed NASA to include near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) as destinations for future human exploration with the goal of sending astronauts to an NEA in the mid to late 2020s. These missions would be the first human expeditions to interplanetary bodies beyond the Earth-Moon system and would prove useful for testing technologies required for human missions to Mars, Phobos and Deimos, and other Solar System destinations. Missions to NEAs would undoubtedly provide a great deal of technical and engineering data on spacecraft operations for future human space exploration while conducting detailed scientific investigations of these primitive objects.
Dr. Abell will show how current analyses of operational concepts suggest that stay times of 15 to 30 days may be possible at these destinations. In addition, the resulting scientific investigations would refine designs for future extraterrestrial In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU), and assist in the development of hazard mitigation techniques for planetary defense.