Professor Bong Wie and his study team, consisting of Brent Barbee at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and several graduate students at the ADRC, has recently been granted a $500K, two-year Phase 2 study award from the NIAC program of the NASA Office of the Chief Technologist. The proposal is entitled “An Innovative Solution to NASA’s NEO Impact Threat Mitigation Grand Challenge and Its Flight Validation Mission Development.” An innovative hypervelocity asteroid intercept vehicle (HAIV) concept for mitigating the most probable impact threat of near-Earth objects (NEOs) with a short warning time, to be further developed in this Phase 2 study, employs a two-body space vehicle consisting of a fore body (leader) and an aft body (follower). The fore body spacecraft provides proper kinetic impact crater conditions for an aft body carrying nuclear explosives to make a robust and effective explosion below the surface of an asteroid body. This study will also assess the technical feasibility of employing various nuclear explosions in the presence of realistic technological constraints as well as physical modeling uncertainties. A flight validation mission proposal will also be developed.
NASA has selected 10 NIAC Phase 2 proposals for funding under the NIAC Phase 2 program for the period of 9/10/12 – 9/10/14. The advanced concepts selected for study under NIAC were chosen based on their potential to transform our future space missions, enable new capabilities or significantly alter current approaches to launching, building and operating space systems. More details of a NIAC Phase 2 study awarded to the ADRC can be found from:
In a recent wired.com article (http://www.wired.com/business/2013/01/ff-seven-big-ideas/all/), the HAIV concept being developed through a NIAC Phase 2 study has been featured as one of “7 Massive Ideas That Can Change the World.”