This week Jon Lomberg is attending the Starship Century conference, which brings together scientists, writers, and futurists to imagine the future of interstellar travel. The organizers are Greg and Jim Benford, and among the attendees are: David Brin, Neal Stephenson, Vernor Vinge, Joe Haldeman, Alan Steele, Geoffrey Landis, Freeman Dyson, Jill Tarter, Paul Davies, Nalaka Gunawardene, and Daniel Richter.
An exciting new option to enhance NASA's OSIRIS-REx asteroid mission has been proposed by Steve Chesley at JPL. The ISIS spacecraft would impact asteroid Bennu to expose its interior structure to OSIRIS-REx.
Aviation Week and Space Technology reports that the President’s next budget request for NASA will include funds to begin developing a mission to bring an asteroid to the Earth-moon system. The initial goal will be to provide a destination for a manned mission to an asteroid, but if the idea works, it could kick start asteroid mining.
Last week, planetary scientists gathered for the 44th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Only a tiny fraction of the presentations at LPSC dealt with future missions. Even so, this is still one of the best sources for insights into details of missions under development. In this post, I’ll cover some of the abstracts for the presentations that give a flavor of the breadth of the proposals.