NASA’s New Spacecraft Could Hitch-Hike Across Galaxy

Monday, September 07, 2015

Hitchhiker Spacecraft

NASA scientists have designed the concept of a new spacecraft that could hitch rides on comets and asteroids. This, they say would replace the requirement of a propellant that is used for entering the orbit of a heavenly body and landing on it.

Hitchhiker is a concept for orbiting and landing on comets and asteroids using the kinetic energy of these small bodies. NASA plans to use a harpoon and a tether so that running out would not be an issue. In order to make a landing the spacecraft will extend a tether towards the asteroid or comet and attach itself to its surface using a harpoon.

Following this the spacecraft will rollback the tether and apply brake that harvests energy while the spacecraft accelerates so that it matches the velocity of the comet/asteroid. The spacecraft can land on the comet/asteroid once it is in line with the velocity of the comet/asteroid. 

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