Lockheed Details Plymouth Rock Asteroid Mission

From AIAA Daily Launch:

Aviation Week (8/30, Carreau) reported, “Lockheed Martin says its “Plymouth Rock” mission proposal would reach a Near Earth Asteroid with astronauts using two Orion capsules and a dual-launch strategy as early as 2016-or nearly a decade ahead of the asteroid goal outlined by President Barack Obama in April.” The article noted Lockheed was expected to discuss the proposal at the AIAA conference in California on Monday. Lockheed Martin principal investigator Josh Hopkins said, “The design requirements for a lunar mission are close enough to an asteroid mission that we were able to extend the design.” According to the article, “Orion’s solar power, robust propulsion and 210-day flight duration underpinned the new mission. Though Orion’s radiation protection is another key asset, Hopkins says that issue will require further study.”

In his column for Space.com (8/30), Leonard David wrote Hopkins “told SPACE.com that a study team has been steadily chipping away on the mission idea since 2007, seeing their plan as a way to explore the asteroids as stepping stones to Mars.” This project “has been funded solely by Lockheed Martin, he added, and does not imply any programmatic intent or technical endorsement by NASA.” David noted astronaut Thomas Jones endorsed the plan because many of the systems could be reused or upgraded for other missions. “In addition to studying asteroids for science, such missions can aid plans to defend Earth from potential impacts and serve as mining stations for raw materials like platinum and other metals, the team’s report found.”

One Comment

  1. I wonder what their intent for a launch system is-or if that is even part of the study. Would they contract with a supplier (E.G. ATK or SpaceX) or do their own thing. An Orion capsule would fit well on an Ares motor (oh yeah!, that’s where we started!)

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