Human missions to near-Earth objects: Examining enabling science instruments and mission technologies

David L. Akin, Mary L. Bowden, Srikanth Saripalli, Kip Hodges

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Through a collaboration of the two universities, senior capstone design classes in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Maryland and Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University have spent the last year developing an in-depth analysis of human exploration missions to near-Earth objects. This has included both the design of vehicles and support systems, as well as instruments for scientific investigation upon arrival and approaches for human and robotic geological exploration in the microgravity environment. The engineering design study focused on the spacecraft and in-space propulsion systems required for the mission, starting from a requirement to base all Earth launches on the use of existing expendable launch vehicles. The baseline mission developed supports a human crew of three for up to six months in space, to allow travel to and from the NEO and extended science exploration activities while there. Three specific aspects of this mission were singled out for more detailed examination, including the development of hardware prototypes for the flight systems required. These systems included a small (25-kg class) robotic maneuvering vehicle, with interchangeable science mission kits for carrying out remote exploration of the body under control by the local astronauts. The second technology was the development and testing of a full-scale inflatable habitat module, which allows for more habitable volume throughout the trip, and permits the adoption of a minimal-sized core spacecraft dedicated to the launch and entry phases of the mission. The third detailed research area was the development of necessary techniques for human field geology in the microgravity environment. This paper summarizes the extensive documentation of this mission developed by the design teams, and includes results of the hardware development and testing phases of the program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAIAA SPACE Conference and Exposition 2011
StatePublished - 2011
EventAIAA SPACE Conference and Exposition 2011 - Long Beach, CA, United States
Duration: Sep 27 2011Sep 29 2011

Publication series

NameAIAA SPACE Conference and Exposition 2011


OtherAIAA SPACE Conference and Exposition 2011
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityLong Beach, CA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Aerospace Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Human missions to near-Earth objects: Examining enabling science instruments and mission technologies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this