- Aug 19, 2003
“This is an animated depiction of the novel SHEPHERD spacecraft concept on a mission to gently stop a small asteroid from spinning and guide it into a different orbit by enclosing the target asteroid in a sealed fabric enclosure. Once captured, SHEPHERD introduces a one tenth atmosphere of Xenon gas to de-spin the asteroid and then blows Xenon gas at the asteroid to gently impart momentum (and an orbital change) to the object while matching the relative position of the spacecraft with thrust from it’s solar electric propulsion engine. In this way SHEPHERD can securely handle and drive even a fragile, pristine and ancient asteroid to its destination. This mission is to release the asteroid in Lunar orbit for a human crew to approach and collect samples for science ...