Asteroid Mining and Colony Bases
Thomas Wm. Hamilton
December 10, 2012
When I worked on the Apollo Project at Grumman Aircraft a memo was circulated in the summer of 1964 asking for suggestions for uses of Apollo hardware after the lunar landings were completed. I swiped a couple minutes on the IBM 7094 and wrote a proposal for landing on a Near Earth Asteroid. Grumman liked the idea enough to forward it to NASA. Months later I heard NASA turned it down, as in those days only eight NEAs were known, and passes close enough for a reasonable chance at landing were rare. Also, NASA felt the entire thing was marginal. Of course, now an asteroid landing is actually being considered. I would hope such a landing would happen by 2018, a return lunar landing in 2020 followed almost immediately by the start of a permanent lunar base. For Mars, a small fleet of unmanned vehicles landing supplies around 2024, with human crews following, using the previously landed materials. A manned landing near one of Mercury's poles no later than 2030.
An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.