back to article Boffin says astronauts could hitch to Jupiter on passing asteroids

A Russian space boffin has claimed that astronauts could use asteroids to travel to the furthest corners of the solar system. Sergei Antonenko, head of the Design and Research Bureau in the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Centre, was speaking at the Technoprom-2013 conference in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk. …

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WTF?

WTF?

Why would you ride an asteroid when to get on you have to match the speed and direction of it first. You might as well just let the ship keep going the same way.

The only reason to catch asteroids is for the raw materials.

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Re: WTF?

Why would you ride an asteroid when to get on you have to match the speed and direction of it first. You might as well just let the ship keep going the same way.

The best reason I can think of is getting good radiation shielding against solar flares and cosmic rays. Provided is cheaper and easier to build a tunnel into the asteroid, than carry a heavy radiation shield.

Enlarging and furnishing the tunnel would also keep the astronauts nicely occupied during the long trip. Tired of you crewmates? Excavate a private den.

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Re: WTF?

Make the asteroid serve the same purpose as a motorway service station/motel. It provides food and shelter for the journey and refuelling capabilities.

Then the astronauts only need to travel in the equivalent of a car at both ends of the journey, as opposed to an RV for the whole journey.

Works best if the asteroid can be made to repeat the journey endlessly, though.

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> same purpose as a motorway service

An interplanetary "Little Chef" - this is the sort of gothic space horror that Ridley Scott was born to direct

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@Mongo - Re: > same purpose as a motorway service

Ah. Hadn't thought of that.

Perhaps more like a Premier Inn with a very nice country pub attached.

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Re: WTF?

"Make the asteroid serve the same purpose as a motorway service station/motel. It provides food and shelter for the journey and refuelling capabilities."

AKA you're using it for it's raw materials, no so much as a means of transport

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@Thorne - Re: WTF?

OK, so I'll have to refine the analogy.

How about a car ferry/cruise liner hybrid that could be used to take your car on transatlantic journeys, as opposed to building a transatlantic tunnel?

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Just Cause?

Why don't they take inspiration from the Just Cause games and hook themselves up to an asteroid and let it pull them to Jupiter?

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Joke

"A University of Washington team funded by the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program is hoping to harness nuclear fusion in a system which could get astronauts to the Red Planet in just 90 days."

"Dear diary, started my research job today. My team-mates seem nice, and everyone is quite new too which is a relief. First day was rather quiet in the end, just figuring out email and accessing the shared drives. Then sat around waiting for nuclear fusion to be nailed so that I can start work on step 2"

I want that job!

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Childcatcher

With time being relativistic.............

" Faster forms of space travel are apparently necessary due to concerns over the long-term effects of living in zero gravity conditions and exposure to potentially dangerous levels of radiation. "

....... would also want to be sure they get home before their offspring are older than they are.

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Anonymous Coward

It might work.

After digging the cave you would want to mine materials from the surface. Rather than randomly scraping away it would make sense to keep the asteroid balanced so eventually you would obtain a cuboctahedra.

Now where have I seen that?

http://wiki.alioth.net/index.php/Coriolis_Station_%28Oolite%29

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Or you could go back to an old idea

And use the Orion nuclear pulse drive from the 1950s. That could in theory shift a 1,600 tonne payload out to Jupiter and back.

See S.M. Stirling's alternate history "Stone Dogs" to get an idea of what could have been done with these things, if international treaties banning nuclear weapons in space hadn't put paid to the idea (they worked by basically throwing small A bombs out of the back).

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Honestly, I think the problem is less with exploding a nuclear bomb in space than it is with exploding multiple bombs in atmosphere during take-off.

Today's rockets may pollute, but I still prefer them to the large swaths of fallout an Orion take-off would generate.

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Re: Or you could go back to an old idea

"And use the Orion nuclear pulse drive from the 1950s. That could in theory shift a 1,600 tonne payload out to Jupiter and back."

It is the best propulsion system that we can make. Just need shedloads of bombs. Oh wait, I think the power-that-be have a bit of a surplus...

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@Pascal

For the types of bomb needed the fallout is actually quite small. Even given the fallout of conventional bombs they calculated that the amount of energy needed for one launch would result in statistically 0.1 to 1 extra death in the world due to radiation. To drive the ship more conventional explosive would be used, and less fissionable material (you only need blasts in the low kiloton range, not the megaton monsters that the military had been testing).

Either way, building the ship in orbit mostly from space-sourced materials gets around the problem.

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@Pascal

Chemical lift to orbit, once at a safe distance for Earth, start the Orions.

If you are using an asteroid for the capsule, you might even be able to engineer it for an internal parabola for the detonation chamber to maximize thrust while minimizing radiation output. You would of course need sufficient rock to shield the 'nauts.

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Happy

Why spend *decades* hauling rad shielding up hill when it's *already* there?

With a big enough asteroid you have bags of room for closed cycle life support.

The challenge would be the propulsion to move that lump.

And of course the obsession with having a spaceship that looks like a spaceship.

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just remember

if they see any huge bat like creatures in the asteriod, do not, i repeat, DO NOT open the cryochamber of hot looking babe, she can be a problem!

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If you can form a viable biosphere inside an asteroid...

...what do you need to go to Mars for? I tell ya, the Martian theme parks are wildly overrated, and you can't make a decent cup of coffee at those pressures.

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Meh

Re: If you can form a viable biosphere inside an asteroid...

Because "viable" does not necessarily mean sustainable indefinitely

Because most people like a permanent up and down?

Because it would feel like you're living in your parent basement?

Things like that.

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Don't forget to bring a towel!

It's essential kit for hitchhikers

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Not a bad idea

Hollow out an asteroid, set it spinning for artificial gravity, build a complete habitat within.

Of course, to maximise the usable area at the right gravity, you'd need to make it more cylindrical, and of course put the more dangerous activities in small satellites orbiting it for elfen safety reasons.

Mark it with your nation's logo, and you end up with something that looks similar to this.

Makes you think, don't it? (OK, so it mainly makes you think I'm off my meds, but still...)

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As usual, Kim Stanley Robinson got there first...

In Kim Stanley Robinsons's Mars Trilogy, she had reasonably large ships on a permanent Mars-Earth course, slingshotting around each to get onto a course to take them back to the other, slingshotting around again and so on.

You want to do Earth-Jupiter? Fine, but you'd need to work out the needed course (not impossible) and then change the asteroid's speed & course (probably expensive in fuel and rather complicated to organise).

Afterwards, hollow out the inside to give a safe place for people (Jupiter has STRONG radiation fields) with shuttles (think of Ian M. Banks's Superlifters in his Culture novels) to decelerate down to Jupiter/Earth orbit speeds and then run to catch (probably) the next asteroid as it passes days, weeks or months later.

Personally, I'd much rather have a lot of living room in an asteroid than be cramped into a volume-restricted shuttle zipping off to... wherever.

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