Concept for human exploration of NEO asteroids using MPCV, deep space vehicle, artificial gravity module, and mini-magnetosphere radiation shield

Mark G. Benton, Ruth A. Bamford, Tom Todd, Bob Bingham, Luis Silva, Paolo Alves

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

5 Citations (Scopus)


A human exploration mission to a near-Earth object (NEO) asteroid is currently being considered by NASA as a stepping stone on a "flexible path" for human exploration of the solar system. This mission may occur in the mid 2020’s and could be humanity’s first longduration mission into deep space. It would subject the crew to the harsh interplanetary environment for six to seven months. The NEO exploration mission could provide humankind with valuable experience operating in deep space, as an intermediate step between short duration Apollo lunar missions and missions to Mars which could last nearly three years. The purpose of this paper is to present a candidate vehicle concept to accomplish the NEO exploration mission. This design will highlight key features that will be needed to keep the crew healthy and safe during a six- to seven-month duration mission into interplanetary space, such as sufficient volume for human habitation, artificial gravity, and protection from solar and cosmic radiation. The NEO Exploration Vehicle (NEV) is modular and assembled in earth orbit. It is composed of three major subassemblies: (1) The Multi- Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) transports the crew from earth to low earth orbit (LEO). It is launched separately and docks with the other two subassemblies already in LEO. The MPCV also provides for return of the crew to earth after successful completion of the mission or aborts. (2) A Deep Space Vehicle (DSV) provides main propulsion, habitation volume, life support consumables, and passive biological radiation shielding for extended missions into deep space. It is based on a design for a Mars habitat/cargo lander. (3) An artificial gravity module (AGM) links the MPCV and DSV together and allows the NEV to rotate to generate artificial gravity. The AGM also provides crew access between the MPCV and DSV, photo-voltaic power generation, and deep space communications. A miniature magnetosphere (Mini-Mag) is generated on the AGM and provides active crew biological radiation shielding. The NEV would demonstrate key technologies for future missions to Mars as well as the Mini-Mag radiation shield, which could be a key enabler for human interplanetary exploration. The NEV design is applicable to other deep space missions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAIAA Space 2011 Conference & Exposition
Place of PublicationReston
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sep 2011

Publication series

NameAIAA Space Forum


  • RALSpace 2011-2012
  • human exploration
  • asteroids
  • near-Earth objects
  • multi-purpose crew vehicle
  • NEO exploration vehicle
  • deep space vehicle
  • artificial gravity module

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