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Antiretroviral drugs can protect people from becoming infected by HIV. But so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP...
Two studies show that eating a diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates is linked to a longer, healthier life, and...
Considered an icon of conservation science, researchers at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters in Washington, D.C.,...
The new atlas, which shows the distribution of important trace metals and other substances, is the first product of...
Early in April, the first of a fleet of environmental monitoring satellites will lift off from Europe's spaceport in...
Since 2000, U.S. government health research agencies have spent almost $1 billion on an effort to churn out thousands...
Magdalena Koziol, a former postdoc at Yale University, was the victim of scientific sabotage. Now, she is suing the...
- 6 March 2014 1:04 pm , Vol. 343 , #6175
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Private Probe Proposed to Gather Asteroid Data
9 September 1997 8:00 pm
A small company unveiled plans today to launch the first private spacecraft to leave Earth's orbit, on a mission to visit a nearby asteroid. A team of University of California, San Diego, students are working on the design of the Near Earth Asteroid Prospector (NEAP), which would be launched in 1999, says Jim Bensen, chair of Colorado-based SpaceDev. The company hopes to turn a profit on the sale of data from the target asteroid, which will be chosen later and depends on the exact launch date.
Bensen is betting that his company can build and launch the spacecraft for under $50 million--a fraction of the cost of a typical NASA space science mission--and offer the resulting data to government agencies for less than a government mission would cost. NEAP would carry a camera, a proton spectrometer to determine the composition of the asteroid's surface, and a neutron spectrometer that could detect the presence of hydrogen.
The ultimate goal of the company, he adds, is to mine nearby asteroids for precious metals and ancient comets for hydrogen and oxygen. These elements could be ferried to a low-Earth orbit and turned into materials and propellant for other missions. SpaceDev has raised nearly all of the money needed to build the spacecraft from private investors, but Bensen declined to identify them.