Bubble-Fronted SEV Credit: Clara Moskowitz/SPACE
The bubble-fronted SEV rover version was optimized for wheeling around on the moon. The crew cabin part has lately been converted into a vehicle that can be attached to a sled for visiting asteroids.

NASA’s SEV Rover Credit: Clara Moskowitz/SPACE.
A mockup of NASA’s next generation moon rover, the Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV), on display at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The SEV has since been converted into a wheel-less vehicle designed for visiting asteroids.

Inside NASA’s New Spaceship for Asteroid Missions

by Clara Moskowitz, SPACE Assistant Managing Editor
Date: 12 November 2012 Time: 02:30 PM ET

The re-election of President Barack Obama has kept NASA on track to send human explorers to an asteroid, and that means work on a 21st-century spacecraft to fly astronauts to the target space rock and hover nearby — or maybe even pogo off its surface — will go ahead as well.

As of 2010, Obama has challenged NASA to get astronauts to an asteroid by 2025, and on to Mars by the mid-2030s. Whether or not the space agency can stick to that schedule largely depends on its future budget, experts say, but regardless of the pace, work on the asteroid mission is already under way.

The Multi-Mission Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV) is a prototype that began its design life as a wheeled moon rover. When the president shifted NASA’s focus from the moon-oriented Constellation program set up by the Bush administration, the space agency adapted the SEV to meet the needs of an asteroid mission instead.

That meant taking off the wheels and converting the vehicle into two parts: a robotic sled that will be used for propulsion and guidance, and a detachable crew cabin that can be fitted on top.

Read more: Inside NASA's New Spaceship for Asteroid Missions | Space.

Home           Top of page