The Million Mile Mission

A small band of believers urges NASA to take its next step—onto an asteroid.

An Orion-derived spacecraft approaches an asteroid, with Earth in the distant background. (Paul DiMare)
Air & Space Magazine

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Dave Korsmeyer has been optimistic about NASA’s interest in asteroids ever since he briefed Constellation manager Jeff Hanley on his study group’s findings in February 2007. “Hanley said, ‘This is great!’ He said the best thing for us to know is that this [Constellation] architecture goes to more than one place instead of just ’round the block.

“Every month since, we’ve been giving a briefing to someone, and not because we’re pushing it. They’re asking for it.” A more detailed study, he says, may be forthcoming.

Rob Landis, a member of the study group with experience in mission control, says, “Apollo 8 was never intended to go to the moon. But NASA said, ‘What if we go anyway?’ That was a huge, quantum leap. I’d say that an asteroid mission is the Apollo 8 of the next generation—before jumping off to Mars, before dipping our toes deeper in that cosmic ocean.” 

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