Are there asteroids, comets or any other type of astronomical object that we can control, so we can determine its direction?

Just think about the possibilities. With the right astronomical object we might even be able to get to Mars, with all the equipment and supplies we need!

  1. Land a spacecraft what will use the resources from the astronomical object as fuel.
  2. Put it in an orbit around the earth so we can put humans and all the equipment we need on the surface of the astronomical object.
  3. Terraform the astronomical object or create a habitable environment.
  4. Move the astronomical object out of earths orbit.
  5. Enter an other planets orbit like Mars.
  6. Launch the ARV (Astronomical object Return Vehicle) spacecraft with humans on board.

So yeah, it's definitely not going to be a piece of cake. But such a "spacecraft" with enough of the resources needed for such a trip would less for a very long time. Even longer if we don't have to use all resources from the astronomical object to control it (e.g. by using a EmDrive).

Other benefits of using an astronomical object:

  • Enough space to store about anything needed.
  • Shelter from solar radiation.
  • Grow food in those shelters.
  • Service as a spacecraft garbage collector.
  • ...more to come? :D

Dangers and drawbacks:

  • If we loose control over the astronomical object it might crash into earth causing a disaster what could wipe out all life on earth.
  • Landing a spacecraft on a comet turns out to be very difficult according to the ESA's Rosetta mission.
  • If we've to use the astronomical object its materials for fuel:
    • We've to know how and what to mine on the astronomical object before sending anything up there.
    • We've to mine quickly and get enough resources so we can get in and out of orbit, before it passes by or crashes into the planet.
  • ...that's all right? xD

Please let me know what is and what is not possible by answering this question. For suggestions on my idea please use the comment area.


closed as off-topic by Aify, Thucydides, Frostfyre, bilbo_pingouin, Hohmannfan Jul 1 '16 at 8:42

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question does not appear to be about worldbuilding, within the scope defined in the help center." – Aify, Thucydides, Frostfyre, Hohmannfan
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ Please note that the Worldbuilding site should not be used as an idea generation resource, but rather as a informational Q&A site. We expect questions to be detailed and specific and allow for a single "best" answer to the problem you have. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jul 1 '16 at 4:08
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think it is off-topic really. But we don't know the kind of technology we have available at the time we want to do it. You discuss many points about the advantages and disadvantages of the method, but we don't know when or whom would do that... So I voted to close as "unclear". $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Jul 1 '16 at 6:32

I think your idea might be workable with a few changes. Short trips like Mars probably wouldn't be worth it though. Asteroids tend to be low enough in volatiles that you would likely need some extensive mining and facilities in order to extract enough fuel from the asteroid to move it. You could get those facilities by launching a large expedition to the asteroid, but if you're capable of sending such a large expedition, why not just go to Mars the normal way? If you have the ability to bootstrap those facilities from a small expedition, you could just build what you need on Mars.

However it's a different story if insteading of using a stationay asteroid, you gravitationally redirect an asteroid or comet that's already heading toward Earth. Launch your boostrappers to begin building basic facilities. As the body approaches Earth, transfer you need over to it while you redirect it into a Hohmann transfer orbit between Earth and Mars. Hohmann transfer orbits tend to be painfully slow, but as a bonus, you can keep sending it between Earth and Mars with minimal effort, allowing it to serve as a shuttle for your new colony. Depending on how much storage space you need, your facilities don't need to be fully completed by the time you get to Earth. Just use explosives to blow off the parts of the asteroid you don't need. This has the dual benefit of serving as reaction mass and of reducing the mass of the asteroid to make it easier to move.

Either way, terraforming the asteroid is right out. You'd be losing atmosphere almost as fast as you're adding it. Your best bet is to attach habitation modules to the outside or hollow it out. Any unnecessary mass from the inside can be used can be used for additional ejection mass.

Where your idea really starts to shine is for interstellar travel. Forget asteroids though; those are for chumps. We want gas giants, because we're building a fusion candle, as first described in Larry Niven's A World Out of Time. I think Howard Tayler puts it best:

1. Build a fusion candle. It's called a "candle" because you're going to burn it at both ends. The center section houses a set of intakes that slurp up gas giant atmosphere and funnel it to the fusion reactors at each end.

2. Shove one end deep down inside the gas giant, and light it up. It keeps the candle aloft, hovering on a pillar of flame.

3. Light up the other end, which now spits thrusting fire to the sky. Steer with small lateral thrusters that move the candle from one place to another on the gas giant.

4. Steer very carefully, and signal your turns well in advance. This is a big vehicle.

5. Balance your thrusting ends with exactness. You don't want to crash your candle into the core of the giant, or send it careening off into a burningly elliptical orbit.

6. When the giant leaves your system, it will take its moons with it. This is gravity working for you. Put your colonists on the moons.

The interstellar option really depends on how good your fusion technology is. Deuterium is relatively easy to fuse, but isn't exactly in abundance in the atmospheres of gas giants, so you'd have to spend a while gathering it up, and wouldn't be able to travel nearly as fast. If your technology is a bit better, you can fuse regular hydrogen or even helium, so your speed limit is whatever you want it to be.


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