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