An important objective for solar system expansion is near earth asteroid-based development. Starting from a nunmanned mission this program can provide an asteroid mitigation platform, obtain essential space based resources and materials, spur the development of a fully reusable space transportation system, establish a durable and inclusive space colony, and provide a unique asteroid-based starship build out and prototype for deep space and interstellar missions.
An asteroid will be used as a platform for a space based launch capacity, and to provide a suitable way station and demarcation point for space vehicles en route to various solar system locations. An asteroid-based transportation resource includes modular cycler craft for transferral of materials and asteroid-originated minerals, ores, and fuels. A manned asteroid-based space settlement will be constructed, together with efficient life support systems, solar power energy resources and artificial gravity via acceleration around the long axis. Asteroid resources will be developed including manufacturing capacity, utilizing available raw materials (iron, aluminum, water ice etc.) Mining and reconstruction of a metalloid asteroid, along with development of a propulsion system would produce a vessel capable of solar system travel or even interstellar missions (the “instant” starship) This usage of a materially coherent asteroid as opposed to a loose knit conglomerate type, would allow full shielding from hard radiation and micrometeorites, while also providing reaction mass for a wide range of propulsion systems.
Phase One: The first step will be an unmanned mission to a selected asteroid (for example Apophis or other NASA designated asteroid) with an accessible orbit. This will be a reconnaissance probe with two components: an orbital satellite for comprehensive mapping, trajectory evaluation and the placement of a stable long term communications network, together with an asteroid lander for topographical and geological prospecting. The lander will complete survey and sampling, including early assessment of minerals, water ice, oxygen, and other components necessary for asteroid based manufacturing, and will also establish a self-sufficient solar power energy platform.
Phase Two: A subsequent unmanned robotic mission is planned with the objective of preparing for manned operations. Primary equipment will comprise a zero gravity drilling excavator and tether assembly which may be assembled and deployed robotically for the purpose of preparing a protected underground base to be completed by incoming crew. The mission will deliver and establish secure life support systems, manufacturing hardware and extendable BLINI domes for food production. A linked functionality of surface rovers, mobile communications and extended solar energy platforms, together with all essentials for habitation and build out, will be attained, together with site specific utilities for local ore processing, including the utilization of excavated materials.
Phase Three: A manned mission to the designated NEO asteroid is targeted for 2029, during the closest Apophis approach to earth. The habitat modules will be fully completed, using the already established manufacturing facilities. Life support systems will be fully operative. Processing and supply mechanisms for LOX fuel will be complete.
Further phases will develop the asteroid base into a comprehensive settlement, supply and manufacturing base.