The NEAP mission is one of a series of missions SpaceDev is defining as part of its long-range strategy of conducting commercial deep-space missions. NEAP is planned to be injected on a trajectory to the near-Earth asteroid Nereus in January 2002 and should rendezvous with the small, 1-km diameter body approximately four months later to conduct a variety of characterizations and observations using remote sensing instruments and ejectable surface instrument packages.
Dojin announced this week its Cosmic Voyage 2000 (CV2K) program, which makes it possible for people to become "digital passengers" aboard the NEAP vehicle by integrating their digital presence -- image, identity, personal messages, etc. - on a CD-ROM to be launched and preserved in space. Dojin states that a portion of the proceeds from the CV2K program will be donated to charity or help promote the commercialization of space, as directed by each paying customer.
"SpaceDev offers package delivery rides from our commercial price list which defines a variety of services for NEAP, and we are pleased to have this concept validated. NASA delivered astronauts to the moon thirty years ago, and now commercial companies can deliver packages to other planetary bodies," said Jim Benson, Chairman and CEO of SpaceDev.
The $200,000 contract calls for SpaceDev to integrate the Dojin-supplied CD-ROM package into the NEAP vehicle and to successfully launch it into space. Dojin and SpaceDev are considering augmenting this contract with additional low-mass payloads.
"This contract validates one of the several revenue producing approaches we are offering on the NEAP project," said Benson.
NEAP will be the first mission to deliver payloads - not necessarily science payloads - beyond Earth orbit using ordinary commercial business practices. In addition to rides for payloads attached to NEAP, SpaceDev also offers to deliver ejectable instruments or technology test packages to the surface of Nereus. SpaceDev also intends to deliver complete science-quality data sets generated by SpaceDev-supplied instruments back to investigators and researchers on Earth. SpaceDev previously announced a letter of intent with the University of Arizona to provide two such instruments onboard NEAP - a multi-band camera and a neutron spectrometer.
"We at Dojin Limited (www.cosmicvoyage2000.com) are extremely excited about this unique opportunity and feel very fortunate to be the first commercial participant in SpaceDev's historic deep space science mission," said Rick Barrett, Dojin spokesperson.
SpaceDev, a two-year-old, 70-person company based in Poway, in northern San Diego County, is the world's first commercial space exploration and development company. Co-located in new Poway facilities are SpaceDev's corporate offices, its wholly owned subsidiary Integrated Space Systems (www.spaceinc.com) and the firm's Space Missions Division. The company's other wholly owned subsidiary, Space Innovations, Limited, is in Newbury, England.
The Space Missions Division recently completed a study of low-cost Mars micromissions for JPL, which are estimated to cost NASA less than $50 million. SIL is under contract to build an Earth orbiting microsatellite for Australia, and sells a variety of low-cost, small-satellite subsystems and ground-tracking equipment.
August 26, 1998
The Project Assessment Team was led by Tony Spear, Mars Pathfinder Project Manager, who recently retired from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) after thirty years of successful deep space science missions. The team consisted of Spear's hand picked deep space experts from various organizations including JPL.
"We commissioned Mr. Spear's study because we believe his team consists of some of the most respected and accomplished deep-space experts in the world," said Jim Benson, president and chief executive officer of SpaceDev-
The team concluded that the NEAP mission conceptual design is sound and the mission could be flown within $50 million, including launch cost. "We are pleased with their findings and we intend to use Mr. Spear's report as a roadmap to complete this mission on time and within our original $50 million estimate announced in September of last year," said Benson.
Spear's team made several specific recommendations for optimizing the NEAP spacecraft to the Nereus carbonaceous asteroid target, the new NEAP target selected as a result of the Spear study. Mission recommendations included possibly adding revenue-producing lunar or near-Earth payloads that could be accommodated in the early parts of the mission, simplifying the avionics architecture, and designing a schedule based on Spear's years of deep space science mission experience.
"Mr. Spear recommended a pre-project phase to initiate detailed project planning and design, project team forming, and long lead procurements," Benson commented. "This pre-project phase would extend from September 1998 to April 1999. At that time a two-year development phase would start, supporting the planned launch date in April 2001."
One member of the team, Dr. Robert Farquhar of Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), recommended fundamental simplifications to the propulsion system that could result in a more reliable and less expensive solution. Dr. Farquhar is the Mission Director of APL's Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) project. He validated and refined the mission and trajectory design work that was pioneered by Dr. Alan Schneider at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in the early design phases of the NEAP mission. Dr. Farquhar's input reduced deep space cruise time by four months.
Dr. Farquhar and Dr. Donald Yeomans, a senior research scientist at JPL, first identified Nereus as one of the most scientifically interesting objects that NEAP could visit. The pair also performed a preliminary analysis of the possible trajectory available to NEAP to reach Nereus and concluded that such a mission would need relatively little fuel and little time. Both features lead to a simpler, smaller spacecraft than was first anticipated.
"We were truly fortunate to have so many of the world's leading scientists and engineers provide their expertise to this mission design, and we fully intend to utilize the advice they have provided us," added Benson. "Overall, these recommendations, and the choice of Nereus as the 'quintessential' target asteroid have allowed us to simplify and miniaturize the spacecraft, which we believe leads to a less expensive and even more feasible mission. As an example, the smaller NEAP spacecraft now being designed for Nereus can be launched by a much wider variety of commercially available rockets, giving us greater flexibility in selecting a low-cost launch provider."
The new NEAP orbits could include close lunar swing-bys that could serve as excellent practice runs for operations at Nereus. The company plans to calculate as many lunar swing-bys as possible for the nine months available, including half-month "backflips" and double-lunar swing-by orbits similar to those used by the ISEE-3 spacecraft in 1983. Some of the swing-bys will be designed to fly as close to the moon as is safely possible, and perhaps fly low over polar craters where lunar water is believed to exist. It is intended that the injection from the parking orbit will be directed into a high-altitude "phasing" orbit whose apogee would be only slightly beyond the moon's orbit.
SpaceDev, the world's first commercial space exploration and development company, intends to launch the first privately financed spacecraft to land on another planetary body. SpaceDev is selling rides for scientific instruments to governments and companies to transport their instruments and experiments through deep space to a near Earth asteroid. SpaceDev intends to sell the data acquired by its instruments as commercial products. Colorado-based SpaceDev has offices in San Diego, CA and Washington, DC.
The foregoing press release includes numerous forward-looking statements concerning the company's business and future prospects and other similar statements that do not concern matters of historical fact. The federal securities laws provide a limited "safe harbor" for certain forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements in this press release relating to product development, business prospects and development of a commercial market for technological advances are based on the company's current expectations. The company's current expectations are subject to all of the uncertainties and risks customarily associated with new business ventures including, but not limited to, market conditions, successful product development and acceptance, competition and overall economic conditions, as well as the risk of adverse regulatory actions. The company's actual results may differ materially from current expectations. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements. The company disclaims any intent or obligation to update publicly these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or for any other reason.
Note: News releases and other information on SpaceDev can be accessed at http://SpaceDev.com or http://www.ctaonline.com/spdv on the Internet.
August 25, 1998
"Nereus appears to present several better and important science opportunities including the potential of finding water and carbon compounds on the asteroid, and the unique chance to compare on-site measurements with ground-based measurements from Nereus' close approach to Earth," said Jim Benson, SpaceDev, president and chief executive officer. "We believe the Nereus mission offers the science community the widest possible variety of science compared to other potential targets, and it could maximize our chances of attracting paying customers."
Nereus, an Apollo-type near Earth asteroid (NEA), will pass within about 2.5 million miles of Earth in January of 2002, which is close enough for ground-based radar installations and telescopes to gather detailed information prior to NEAP's planned arrival about four months later. The company commissioned Mr. Spear's study because management believed that Nereus could be a more desirable destination than the original launch target. Mr. Spear's study has appeared to confirm the advantages of Nereus.
"Tony Spear, who led the recent NEAP feasibility study from June 15 through July 15, believes that Nereus is the quintessential near-Earth asteroid mission," said Benson. Mr. Spear was the Mars Pathfinder Project Manager, and recently retired from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) after thirty years of successful deep-space science missions.
"Additionally, Mr. Spear highlighted the following attributes of Nereus that could make it such an appealing project: it is a C-type asteroid about 1 km in diameter with a well-known orbit between Mars and Earth. Nereus is also scientifically interesting because it is carbonaceous, it may have a high water content, and it may consist of many other types of useful elements and volatiles," said Benson.
Benson noted that scientists who lobbied SpaceDev to change targets to Nereus believe a project to Nereus could help shed light on the early formation and composition of the solar system. "Furthermore, it could be very interesting as a possible astrobiology research site since it may possess most of the basic ingredients necessary for life, including a reasonable temperature below its surface."
To reach Nereus, NEAP launch is planned for April 3, 2001 and will remain in the Earth-moon system until January 12, 2002, when it should escape Earth's gravity to encounter Nereus on about May 12, 2002. NEAP should complete its primary mission by mid-June, 2002 if all proceeds according to the current plan.
Originally, SpaceDev planned to launch NEAP by the middle to end of 2000, but Benson noted that the new target is much more attractive scientifically and its schedule is more accommodating to potential payloads. It could now be possible to add lunar or Earth experiments to the spacecraft therefore increasing potential additional revenue, possibly including the search for water on the moon, prior to leaving the Earth-moon system for Nereus.
"Due to Nereus' orbit and position compared to Earth, it is relatively easy to reach given the capabilities of our planned propulsion system. This, in turn, simplified many of the spacecraft support systems while lowering costs, which were important factors in selecting this asteroid," said Benson.
June 8, 1998
Tony Spear was responsible for the highly successful and popular Mars Pathfinder mission which last summer put the lander and Sojourner rover on Mars to analyze the soil, rocks and atmosphere.
The Mars Pathfinder was the least expensive mission of its kinds and a bold departure from the traditional size and expense of such missions. Mr. Spear's job for SpaceDev is to use the same out of the box thinking to design an optimal mission and a minimum cost spacecraft for NEAP. Study results are expected in early July 1998.
James Benson, President and CEO of SpaceDev said "I am excited about Tony and his dream team analyzing the feasibility of re-targeting NEAP to a new and better target, asteroid Nereus. This is a wonderful and important possibility because Nereus will fly by quite close to earth just before the rendezvous opportunity, only .029 AU away. If we go to Nereus, a type C asteroid, it will be the first time that close-up ground based instrument findings can be correlated with instruments flown to and dropped onto an asteroid."
NEAP will be the world's first commercial deep space science mission, and will fly instruments from science teams, which have purchased insured rides on the unmanned NEAP spacecraft.
In early 2002, Nereus will fly by very close to Earth, less than three million miles away, only ten times the distance to the moon. A few months later will be the best time to rendezvous with Nereus. No other probe has ever rendezvoused with a carbonaceous asteroid.
Benson added "It is of the utmost importance that we go to near earth asteroids to examine and understand them. They are both incredibly dangerous and incredibly valuable, but at this time no one has a clue how to deal with them. SpaceDev is the first to do something practical about asteroids."
Carbonaceous asteroids are believed to contain water, iron, carbon, aluminum, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and a variety of other potentially valuable resources. Iron content varies from 6 to 23 percent, and some are believed to contain up to 20 percent water. NEAP will look for water with its neutron spectrometer, similar to that on Alan Binder's Lunar Prospector, which confirmed the presence of water on the moon. Dr. Binder is on the board of directors for SpaceDev. Nereus, about .6 miles in diameter, is estimated to contain resources with a street value of over $1 trillion.
NEAP is recognized by NASA as a "Mission of Opportunity" for both the Discovery and MIDEX programs. To date, seven teams of scientists have notified NASA of their intent to seek funding from NASA to purchase rides for their instruments on the NEAP mission.
SpaceDev intends to hold a press conference in Washington, DC in early July to release and describe the results of the Spear NEAP mission study.
SpaceDev, the world's first commercial space exploration company, intends to launch the first privately financed spacecraft to assess and to land on a near earth asteroid. SpaceDev is selling rides for scientific instruments to governments and companies to transport their instruments and experiments through deep space to another planetary body. SpaceDev intends to sell the scientific data acquired by its instruments as commercial products. Colorado-based SpaceDev has offices in San Diego, CA and Washington, D.C.
Except for historical financial information contained herein, the matters set forth in this release are forward-looking statements that are dependent on certain risks and uncertainties including but not limited to such factors as market demand, pricing, and changes in worldwide economic conditions.
News releases and other information about SpaceDev Inc. can be accessed at http://www.spacedev.com or http://www.ctaonline.com/spdv.
SpaceDev, (www.SpaceDev.Com) the world's first commercial space exploration company, intends to launch the first private spacecraft to land on a near earth asteroid for the purpose of collecting scientific data and to stake a claim to establish private property rights in space.
The spacecraft, Near Earth Asteroid Prospector (NEAP), first in a series of SpaceDev Space Prospectors, will carry three of its own instruments to analyze its asteroids size, and determine its composition and value. In addition to these, space is available for up to seven additional experiments or instruments of which four are canisters for instruments or experiments to be deployed into sun orbit during the mission or to the surface of the SpaceDev asteroid. On the first mission, one canister will contain the NEAP alpha proton X-ray spectrometer which will be used to determine the elemental composition of the asteroid surface, leaving three canisters available to carry customer experiments or nano-rovers.
"Until today, scientists, universities, companies and governments have had one avenue to space-the government. NEAP is the new spacecraft on the launchpad, and its science costs only one-fourth what a recent government mission costs," said James W. Benson, Chairman, SpaceDev.
"This unique opportunity to use a private spacecraft offers these customers inexpensive access to space on short notice and also offers quick turn around on experiment results-results in approximately half the time of current missions. Furthermore, the mission represents minimal risk to the customer, because customer's instruments are fully insured against launch failure," said Benson.
NEAP intends to launch between mid 1999 and mid 2000, with flight time estimated at between nine and fifteen months. Potential target asteroids include 1993 BX3 and 1996 FO3.
Construction and testing of NEAP will begin during the first quarter of 1998 and will take approximately 18 months to complete. SpaceDev is a public company (OTC:PSDM) specializing in private space missions and consulting.
Full details of the Announcement of Opportunity are available on the SpaceDev website.