Mission To An Asteroid

Asteroids are much more accessable than Mars - as well as better potential resources and more strategically important (Mars won't hit Earth anytime soon).

The NASA JPL Center for Near Earth Object Studies has a Really Cool Accessable Near Earth Asteroid online mission planner.

Here's a 322 day mission to 99942 Apophis in 2028. If we miss that opportunity, we can go to 2001 CQ36 in 2031, a 282 day mission.

Asteroid size and shape can be much better estimated with radar measurements from Arecibo and Goldstone. The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope can provide more information during mission planning. An asteroid mission might also result from the partial development of a Mars mission followed by budget cuts or prototype failure, and provide tools for a Phobos landing, a scientifically less damaging target for a dual humans-to-Phobos/robots-to-Mars mission.




Launch date



Total mission delta V

6.92 km/s


Total mission duration

322 days

282 days

Outbound flight time

225 days

65 days

Stay time

32 days

72 days

Inbound flight time

65 days

145 days

Earth departure dV

3.824 km/s

4.031 km/s

NEA arrival dV

2.032 km/s

0.826 km/s

NEA departure dV

0.435 km/s

2.068 km/s

Earth return dV

0.625 km/s

0.073 km/s

Earth entry speed

12.00 km/s

12.00 km/s

Next Arecibo approach



Next Goldstone approach



NHATS Trajectory ID



Estimated Diameter

200-893 m

55-246 m

Est Hectares

13 - 251

1 - 19

NHATS Trajectory ID



NHATS missions are ranked by total delta V. Someday, with launch loop technology facilitating the in-orbit construction of huge electric engine systems, we may choose missions based on different parameters. "Armada missions", with multiple manned-centrifuge and cargo spacecraft and advanced robotic site preparation may be the safest and most productive possibilities, with destinations chosen for mission abort options and most frequent opportunities rather than lowest single-mission delta-V cost.


MissionToAnAsteroid (last edited 2017-11-03 04:14:02 by KeithLofstrom)