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[CiV VI] I've compiled my Ideas, and many of those I found throughout the sub, to create the ultimate Civ VI wishlist!

I appologize in advance as this post is offensively long. I mean, it's 5000 words with no TL:DR, so abandon all hope all ye who enter. I believe it covers all of the most common suggestions, and I've tried to make it all a little bit more out-there for the sake of flavour, but alas, please roast me merrily and have a lively discussion in the comments! Without further ado...
Musings; Ultimate edition
Tile Improvements
-4 Transport Improvements; Road, Railway, Highway and Maglev. These all have some difference in kind.
-Roads are the cheapest and the lowest tech, working much as they do in Civ V, but boosting yield on some adjacent improvements such as trading posts/towns.
-Railways have a limit on their distance from cities; about 5 tiles in the industrial era, increasing to 7 in the modern. This forces players to build cities closer together, and build the correct improvements, but railway benefits scale with population and aren't usable by enemy combatants.
-Highways work like a straight upgrade of roads, except they allow cities within 5 tiles along a highway to pool food and production yields, but produces 'pollution', which reduces "health".
-Maglev is a funky one for tech focused Civilizations. A maglev network connecting cities, irrespective of length, pools population(citizens available to work buildings), pools production and boosts science yield in both cities by ~30%, but otherwise functions like an expensive railway. Costs "energy" as well as about 4 gold per turn per tile.
-Rivers work like roads, but with no maintenance and provide gold. Great rivers allow ships to sail through. Workers can eventually dig canals which act as artificial great rivers, and tunnels can be bored through mountains through which Railways, Highways and Maglev can travel.
-Le Mountain Tunnels and pontoon bridges/undersea tunnels.
Yield Improvements
-Farms, Wells, Mines, Lumber mills, Plantations, Pastures, Camps and Quarries all work much the same as before, however Mines, Wells and Quarries produce 'pollution' as well as production.
-Windmills and Watermills(by rivers), which can be built on top of Farms and Plantations, provide a small yield of production at no 'pollution' cost. Upon research of "Electricity", they produce an "energy" yield.
-Once "Mechanization" technology is researched, the citizen assigned to a farm or plantation can be replaced with "energy" from appropriate buildings and improvements. The same is true for Mines, Wells and Quarries upon researching "Automation".
-Wells can be built to provide adjacent tiles with fresh water.
-Cottages double gold yield from surrounding tiles, provide 1 gold themselves. +1 gold with "Economics". Grow into Villages and then Towns which provide 3 gold base, 1 science, 1 production and 1 "energy", reduce crime and increase health.
Strategic/Military Improvements
-Forts can't be entered by enemy units without attacking. Area around forts are considered area of control, and give a land claim for a casus belli. Can upgrade to a military base, giving it an aircraft capacity and healing adjacent friendly units.
-Add sentry turrets, which are effectively stationary units which can attack enemy units. Available on Ballistics, can upgrade on Robotics to attack autonomously, Rocketry to be able to fire rockets to destroy tanks.
-Can build walls which provide a combat bonus to units inside, and drain movement points, as well as "outposts" which heal units in adjacent tiles.
-Some units can build trenches and lay mines(requires "Gunpowder") which provide a defensive bonus/act as traps.
Cities and Colonies
-Global happiness replaced with city level "health" and "stability", which affect growth, "bandit" spawn rates and likelihood of rebellions. A city with very low/negative health has a chance of spawning a plague, which behaves almost like a Civ V religion, spreading to other cities via pressure from proximity and trade routes, however plagues can also infect units adjacent to an infected city, which can then infect other cities and units and so on and so forth. Stability is reduced the greater the minimum travel time from the capital to that city.
-Workers can build districts adjacent to the original cities, which act as an extension of the city, reducing "crime", increasing "health", as well as allowing that city to build contextual buildings and units of the suburb's tile. If the population of a city grows too large without extra districts then 'health' and 'stability' decreases, spawning "slums" which in turn spawn bandits. The district can be specialized to be a stability boosting suburbs, health boosting parks, production boosting fabrics/shipyards, money boosting financial districts, culture boosting theatre districts, science boosting science parks and (upon researching hydroponics) food boosting vertical farms. If you play it smart, you can build 10 tile, 100+ pop megapoli by the end of the game.
-From the renaissance era, 'colonists' (super-fast, cheap settlers) can found "colonies" as well. Colonies increase cost of techs and policies by ~75% less than normal cities and grow twice as fast, but have much less defence. They can't (initially) build any buildings, nor build units with production, but can spawn militiamen and mercenaries. All of their production goes into "levelling-up" the colony, from 0 up to 20~25, having at around level 15 the option to turn it into a proper city. At each level you are presented with a "random" dynamic event and options on how to handle it; the options you choose affect the direction your colony takes and the characteristics it has. For example; "Catholic refugees fleeing the Malian inquisition are huddled outside the gates, what is our course of action? Do we; let them in (+1 population, -1 health, +2 diplomacy FP), turn them away (-1 diplomacy FP, +2 food), or offer them refuge in exchange for military service (+1 military FP, a maintenance free unit appears, -1 food). By level 25, 25 of these decisions could have been made, and the colony would have an array of special attributes. But high level colonies would carry a large risk of spawning rebel units, so it's worth converting them to cities (which start with an array of buildings) anyway.
-Casus Belli system; common complaint, common answer. Appropriate and adapt from paradox games. Potential cases include land claim (using forts and spies), espionage offence, liberation (low approval), holy war, ideological conflicts, imperial conquest, resource acquisition, diplomatic offence et cetera. All of these will reduce warmonger penalties with certain Civs for certain actions but aren't a get away with murder card.
-Ultimata; Currently, there is no facility to threaten other civilizations. Ultimata remedy this and work thus; I demand something from another Civ in exchange for NOT declaring war. If they refuse the I automatically declare war on the next turn.
-A focus points system. Civ actions, such as War, Threats, Wonders, Technologies, Trades, Quests and Civics earn focus points in Science, Economy, Religion, Culture, Military or Diplomacy; These give diplomacy bonuses, allow access to special quests, and allow special actions.
-Taunt leaders back. This can give focus points.
-7 types of non Civ actors; City-States, Nations, Tribes, Corporations(get to that later), Rebels(Specific-Hostile) and "Barbarians/Bandits"(Hostile).
-City-States work much like they do in 5, except gold gifts are worth much less, and special quests and focus points are worth much more, and influence is instead 'spent' in order to gain things like world congress votes. Any allied city state can eventually be incorporated fully as a city. Eg. Florence, Milan, Singapore, Monaco, Malta, Honkers, Samarqand, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ife, Great Zimbabwe, Mombasa, Zanzibar etc. Limited to ~9 tiles.
-Nations are like stripped down Civilizations; a halfway house between city states and full blown Civs. Limited to 4 cities, which must be contiguous, they offer a medium for proxy wars, advanced diplomacy, breakaway states and buffer states. They also conveniently add filler to the map, and can represent small or "failed" nations. eg. Scotland, Texas, California, Belgium, Wallachia, Aragon, Manchuria, New Zealand etc.
-Tribes are an overhaul of Barbarians; Instead of automatically hostile units spawning from encampments, tribes act sort of like city states with no cities. They have territory, in which they have villages which occasionally spawn primitive military units and only primitive military units. There are no penalties for entering tribal territory as long as you aren't seen by any units, and you can even settle on top of their land. However, within these lies a moral choice; do you overpower tribes and take their land or try and bargain with and incorporate them peacefully?
-Rebels are units which spawn in cities with a low 'stability' stat, and are always hostile to the Civ in which they are spawned. The 'strife' can be increased by enemy spies, ideology, large numbers of unemployed citizens and lack of gold/science buildings. If rebels capture a city, then they make a new 'Nation' or city state which can be bargained with like any other.
-"Bandits" are the new Barbs, but as well as spawning in encampments they spawn in slums in civilized territory in response to overcrowding. They are more money focused in that any tile with a bandit unit on it yields negative gold per turn, and will set up their own improvements such as traps and dens. Can perhaps change name based on era and context (eg. Barbarian, Bandit, Pirate, Terrorist, Savage, Gangster, Mobster, Highwaymen etc).Their spawn rate inside Civs is reduced by presence of police buildings.
-InfoAddict style information screens. Graphs for days! Also displayed are opinion modifiers, and the factors determining whether a Civ will accept any particular deal. Less hidden mechanics.
-Ideology has more impact on diplomacy, with significantly different mechanics associated with each (get to that later), and being an extremely significant maker and breaker of relationships.
-Add Chemical, Biological and Radiological weapons which carry a very significant diplomacy penalty, along with nukes.
-One can choose to disobey resolutions or leave the world congress, incurring a large diplomatic penalty.
-Establish pacts with nations and city states.
-Can buy tiles from other actors.
-A less linear tech tree, starting off with a "core" set of techs arranged as they are but with cul-de-sac "branches" coming out of later eras, offering interesting technologies; broadly on spectrum from futuristic to retro-futuristic. The techs that all players need would all be in the core so they didn't have to specialize too much, but there would necessarily be a lot more techs. The ones further out on branches would only really useful for players either aiming for a Science victory or aiming for a specific bonus.
-Civs are able to divide research, researching multiple techs at the same time, utilizing special specialists (heh) called scientists. Much like trade routes in BNW, each era would allow a certain base number of scientists, and then things such as wonders, city states, research agreements, social policies and such would add on to that. Scientists would each be able to research one tech at a time, but multiple scientists (up to -3~4) could be set to research the same tech at an accelerated rate. The rate at which scientists could research stuff will depend on several factors. Each could utilize the entire Civ's global science output, in addition to their home cities' science output and more beakers proportional to extra allocated gold. Scientists would be based in a specific city, and would use up ~3 food, ~3 base gold, and require certain buildings to be able to research techs at certain levels; Libraries for anything beyond the Ancient Era, A University for anything beyond Medieval, A Laboratory for anything beyond Industrial and so on. It would be most efficient to put lots in your capital, but you wouldn't necessarily have the food to do this. Having lots of extra scientists would not be worth the effort if you don't want to have a science victory, and having lots impairs your Civ in other ways. This is an effective nerf to tech, which otherwise is inherently OP.
-New science buildings, such as Particle Accelerators, University Hospitals, Pharmacy-labs, Space-centres and the such in the late game. These would allow new lines of the tech tree, as well as providing bucket-loads of science, for a high price.
-'Rationalism' perhaps split into two different policy branches, Rationalism and Ingenuity. Rationalism is best for tall/tech defence, augmenting the ability of cities to make and use science. Ingenuity best for wide, improving use of strategic resources and reverse engineering other Civs tech i.e. tech offense.
-Research agreements allow one Civ greatly accelerated research into techs already researched by the other Civ, and a boost in global science output equal to that of the smaller Civ, and a two-for-one (maintenance wise) on two of their own scientist. When the agreement ends both players get a one-time tech boost.
-High level spies can be used to take enemy scientists during a time of war.
-Being allied with city states and minor nations allows you to initiate research agreements with them free of gold charge.
-11/12 eras: Ancient, Archaic?? , Classical, Medieval, Renaissance, Enlightenment, Industrial, Modern, Atomic, Information, Genetic/Space and Synthetic eras. Science and Diplomacy win in Synthetic. Cultural in Genetic at earliest. Domination is Domination.
-Revamped Science Victory. Perhaps, Instead of building a spaceship using Information era tech, you have to do special quests. Maybe upon researching a tech in the core of the Renaissance or the Enlightenment , you are alerted to the presence of a special quest for you to follow, and that other such quests are available upon researching specific technologies, which are located far out in the branches of subsequent eras, where non-science Civs daren't tread. The quests could range from "complete this national wonder", to "City state X has this item, acquire by any means necessary", to "Conduct a special research mission at X location". These quests would give special rewards, but would also give you items (all of which) you need to complete the science victory, possibly with an interstellar mission, maybe first contact, possibly artificial intelligence, I don't know. Stick with tradition; an interstellar mission.
-More rubber banding in tech. "Core" technologies that have already been discovered by a met civilization will take ~40% less time to research, and units have a chance of "discovering" a technology when killing advanced enemy units or taking the city of a technologically superior foe.
Late Game Horrors
-Endgame apocalypse scenarios. In the late atomic era players would be notified of the possibility of a coming endgame scenario. There would be a set number of scenarios that would be presented, each with a different probability of advancing. The scenarios would begin at the start of the Information era and progress through different levels of increasingly severe effects. There would be runaway global warming with rising sea levels, desertification, flooding and such the like. A new ice age with falling sea levels, glaciations, deforestation, ecological collapse and so on. Then there could be Atmospheric Toxicity with algae blooms, poison winds, ozone holes and other ghastly stuff. Players can then either concentrate efforts to reverse the cataclysm, to the joy of weaker Civs and nations; or simply withstand it, much to the dismay of those you could help, using dome cities and similar. Perhaps persuading other Civilizations, Nations and City States to unite in efforts to prevent the cataclysm could become the new diplomatic victory. Beats buying city states.
-Nukes become far more terrifying. Each nuke deployed would advance the endgame scenario significantly. To add to this, one nuke hit would turn any city district into a "Nuclear ruins" which spawns special Barbarian units called "Antmen", which drain health of all adjacent units and city districts. Fallout would prevent any food yield and pillage all tiles affected. Some splotches of fallout may end up all over the world in random places.
-Nukes could be set to Dead Man's switch, meaning any nuclear attack on that Civilization would cause any nukes set to dead man's switch to fire at the belligerent's cities
Civics and Social Policies
-Add the quest system from IV and BE, as well as the quest decisions and such from the above two games and a splash of random event decisions from paradox.
-In addition to Social Policies like in Civ V, have Civics which are a set of Binary choices taken ~2 times per era. These would be things like: Collectivism versus Individualism and Citizen Army (low maintenance) versus Mercenary (low production) in the early game, and Religious School versus Secular School in the late era, for example. These are the things ingrained into your Civ's culture.
-Civs are given a "home turf" bonus depending on the terrain they spawn in. A Civ that spawns with more than 12 hills or desert tiles etc. within 3 tiles of the capital will gain a combat bonus and yield boosts relevant to that terrain type.
-Ideologies, like those in BNW, stay, along with their "tenets". However, a new layer is added; "Internal Diplomacy" including an 'Election/Party' system for freedom, a 'Soviet' system for order and a 'Faction' system for autocracy.
-In Civs following freedom, every few turns there would be an "Election" which would give 3 different parties, loosely modeled around Traditionalists/Conservatives, Liberals and Populists/Socialists, a certain amount of weighting/representation. Any particular action would have a certain approval with each party, and total approval (from all parties) gives bonuses or penalties. If total approval is at +80 then you are effectively in a mini Golden age. Less than -50 then you face civil disobedience and mass protest. For example, if you want to raise taxes, a large number of "traditionalists/conservatives" will make you pay, while a large number of "populists/socialists" will cheer you along. The representation of each party is dependent on several factors; large numbers of faith buildings and religious followers will help "traditionalism", culture buildings and high GPT would boost "liberalism", lots of factories or poor GPT helps "populism/socialism", gold buildings reduce "populism/socialism", and a Random Number Generator throws a boon to anyone going every few turns when there's an "election". The weighting of the RNG also throws back to the civics/social policies one takes in the early game; tradition helps traditionalists, liberty helps liberals and so on. Other social policies may change the Parties' opinions on certain actions; honour, for example, reduces opposition to war.
-Order Civs have three 'soviets' in place of parties; Industrial workers (hammer), Agrarian Peasants (sickle) and Intellectuals (pen). Any action you take will reduce or increase "contentment" of each 'soviet'. Contentment of peasants affects food/growth, Industrial affects production/gold, and Intellectual affects science/culture. There are no 'elections' as with freedom, but weighting of the three soviets will depend on the amount of farms, factories and universities; if you don't have any farmers on the land you don't have to pander so much. Every ~10 turns, each soviet will set a quest (5-year-plan) such as: build a university in every city of population >6, secure a source of 6 unique luxuries, gain 10 population in X city and so on. Fulfilling these objectives will gain a boost to yields relevant to the soviet, as well as a quest decision, whilst their contentment will decrease if you fail the objective. Whilst at war these objectives are suspended. If you consistently succeed, gaining contentment and Great person points, then you get special great people called "Stakhanovites". Peasant Stakhanovites can found "ration" districts which expand the closest cities workable radius by one tile around them and boost growth by ~35%. Worker Stakhanovites can found "studio" districts which produce 10 hammers and increase build rate off units or buildings by 30%, and Intellectual Stakhanovites can produce a "Institute" district which boosts city science by 50% and culture by 40%, and gives a free scientist. They can also be expended to found a city with a full suite of growth, production or science buildings, or can found 'Order' corporations. Using Stakhanovites gives massive boosts to tourism, stability and "contentment" of the soviets.
-Autocracy Civs instead must accommodate three 'factions'; the Generals, the Oligarchs and the Ministry. This, necessarily, is quite different to the others. The Generals become restless after long periods of peace, potentially sparking rebellions and mutiny, and so Autocratic states must be at war regularly or else the generals will reduce production, stability and culture. If one fails to acquire new resources and expand gold yields then gold, science and health are massively reduced. The Ministry is responsible for counter intelligence success and food yields, and failing to chastise offending civilizations and build new units causes growth to stunt, stability to decrease and spies to begin leveling down. Autocracy Civs can however by default work a greater radius around their cities, have no penalty for annexing territory, and get replacement workers called Labour Fronts which are quicker, pay no unit maintenance and can fight as a melee unit if enemy soldiers are within the Civ's territory. These are earned through keeping the ministry happy, along with bonuses to great people generation and shorter periods of resistance in captured cities. Keeping the generals happy provides combat bonuses, as well as increased stability and spawning of "Troopers" which are up to date military units free of maintenance with a combat bonus against rebels, enemy units in friendly territory, and units belonging to Nations and City States. Keeping the oligarchy happy will result in the spawn of Autocratic Corporations, and will give conquered cities free gold buildings.
-Corporations behave like little city states (with no territory or cities), and can undertake many different projects with you. Depending on the corporation, they may be able to research technologies which you can then use, build buildings in your cities (some of which are unobtainable any other way), build and maintain improvements (some of which, again, are unique to corporations), spawn unique great people, field a private military/security force to use against barbarians, man culture buildings, establish trade routes and practically anything else. There are several types; tech-based corporations which help with science and give scientists, entertainment/travel corporations which help with culture and tourism, manufacturers which boost production etc. The catch is that you must attract corporations to set up in your cities by following policies which are friendly to them (low taxes) and having buildings and improvements which help them, such as banks and stock exchanges. Tech corporations want universities and labs, Pharmaceutical corporations want lots of unimproved tiles (especially jungle). Trade agreements and diplomacy also attract corporations and allow corporations to operate in multiple Civs to share luxuries, gold, science and culture; however the majority of the benefits go to the Civ with the corporate headquarters. Of course, different ideologies and tenets will be able to reap the benefits of corporations more efficiently. Freedom Civs are the natural choice for taking advantage of corporations, whilst Order Civs have a much harder time; they can only gain their own corporations using special great people. The rough order is; Freedom (Optimal), Freedom, Order (Optimal), Autocracy (Optimal), Autocracy, Order. With the right tenets, Order is decent for Corporations (China), whereas Autocracy locks you in to a kind of Autarky, whereby corporations are nigh impossible to attract if not created by Oligarchs.
Gameplay Tweaks
-Maps are largetiles are smaller; allow Civs to build extremely dense populations without feeling cramped. Countries such as the Netherlands, or England, if put directly into Civ V would effectively be 10 tiles of nothing but cities.
-The vast number of notifications you get when it comes to the late game would be condensed into a "newspaper" which can be opened up and browsed for updates, rather than crowding your screen. Stories could be things like: "Owing to brilliant contributions to the research of Theology, Gottfried Leibniz has emerged as one of Medieval America's greatest Scientists!" and "King Alexander of Greece has completed the construction of his great Porcelain Tower!".
-Ranged Units, Civilian Units, Infantry Units and Cavalry/Siege Units can fit on different "layers" in each tile. Each unit more than the 1st uses 1 food. If they consume more food than the tile can provide, and they are outside the workable radius of a non-starving friendly city, then they suffer attrition damage.
-Addition of more Biomes. Gameplay-wise, there would only be the usual terrain types. However, some forests may appear as bamboo forests, some marshes as swamps or fens, some deserts have red sand and cacti etc.
-Upgrade route for Scouts, going to Explorers and Recon units, as well as Snipers. Along with this: more customizability, and take out the "Great War" units, or put them earlier. Replace them with cold war era units, like Vulcan bombers, MIGs, "Choppers" etc.
-Allow helicopter units to land between turns, allowing them to "refuel". Also allow air unit's like bombers to conduct a "Hail Mary", doubling range and damage but destroying the unit, with a chance of recovering the "pilots" for quicker replacement.
-Incorporate the quest system/binary choices into religion: poly vs monotheistic etc. Just more customization in general. Allow cults to be founded with leftover beliefs once at the enlightenment era.
Espionage (Shout-out to litriod)
-If you put a "spy" into one of your own cities, they become an Agent, which work much like Civ V spies who are set to Counter-Intelligence. They will hunt foreign Spies in the city you send them to, but they won't necessarily kill them when they find them. Instead you are given several actions to choose from; Kill the Spy and send them back to their homeland as a warning, resulting in their leader disliking you, but other nations will then dislike them for spying on people. You can also send them home unharmed, and chastise their government for spying on you making the other Civ like you more for sparing their spy, but they'll send more your way in the future. Or you could allow the Spy to continue their job, with a catch; The Spy's government must pay you gold, you gain some of their intelligence, but the Spy will continue Spying on your people, and your Agent will not level up from the incident.
-When you place a spy to a Friendly Civ's city, they become a Diplomat. Diplomats aren't hidden like Spies, and the foreign government always knows their location. Diplomats give you the ability to see all of the territory owned by the city they're in, not just the two rings around the city. Diplomats will also receive information from officials about events in their empire, working like the Spy's surveillance ability. However, the foreign officials won't give you unlimited Intel, and will inform you if they're plotting against you. Diplomats can allow you to trade World Congress votes with the nation in which they're operating, and each Diplomat you field will give you 1 bonus vote in the World Congress. When war is declared on the civilization housing the diplomat, they may be killed in the crossfire, and your Diplomats are at constant risk of assassination.
-Spies placed in a Neutral Civilization's city become, well, Spies. Spies work much as they currently do: they do shady things under cover, and they risk getting caught and treated by the other player much as you could've treated theirs, but you can of course sacrifice your spy and not pay the tribute if they offer you such. Spies retain their previous abilities: stealing tech and surveillance, but also gain three new abilities; Assassination Sabotage and encouraging rebellion. Spies sent on assassination missions can kill Diplomats from other Civs. If you pull this off their home Civ will blame the civilization in which they had a diplomat, and if there are already tensions building this could start a war. Assassination is a dangerous business though, and you could fail in one of two ways. Either your spy could get caught, making both Civs distrust you, or your spy could fail to properly frame the host Civ, alerting both Civs to a plot but not telling them who by. After a successful or botched assassination, your Spy will flee the city to the Hideout for a turn or two. The second new ability is sabotage, which, if successful, delays that Civs current construction project for 2 turns. The third special ability of the Spy allows you to decease stability and increase the chance of a rebellion, requiring a decent amount of gold to send to the rebels, with greater amounts increasing rebellion chance. If they actually spawn, or are there already, you can still spend money to better equip the rebel units. All this can be a tad awkward if you are caught.
-"Spies" in cities of Guarded or Hostile Civilizations, even if you're currently at war with them, will retain the title of Spy. Spies placed in these cities have a larger risk of capture, but they also have more potential for chaos. They retain their previous abilities: surveillance, stealing tech, spreading discontent, sabotage, assassination etc. but they also gain abilities for their assassinations and sabotage. Spies in this situation can also kill Great People and VIPs; If a Great Person is present you can choose to attempt a strike, killing them if you succeed. Choosing to target a VIP will, if they succeed, result in loss of 1 population and reduce production and stability by about 10% for 5 turns. Spies can also start an insurgency, suppressing production and health, or steal scientists.
-When deploying "Spies" to a City state or Nation, you can set them either as Diplomats or Spies. They can do everything they could when in a proper Civ, but diplomats can trade technology, and "Shill" to increase influence/relations. Spies can Rig elections, increasing influence significantly, and also perform Coups d'état to either annex, puppet, change the ally (swap influence with the State's ally) or Change the ideology of the host State. Spies can also siphon off gold from said states.
-Of course, "spies" can all be leveled up in their different roles.
CIVS(must-haves marked with *)
*Great Britain- Victoria
*France- Napoleon/Louis XIV
*Rome- Augustus CaesaMarcus Aurelius
*Germany- Otto von Bismarck
*Russia- Catherine/Peter I
*Greece- Alexander
Picts- Nechtan
Spain- Isabella
Portugal- Maria I
Yugoslavia- Josip Broz Tito
Poland/Commonwealth- Sigismund II
Austria- Maria Theresa
Hungary- Coloman
Kievan Rus'- Yaroslav' I
Sweden- Gustav Adolf
Denmark/Vikings- Harald Blatand
Ottomans- Suleiman Kanuni
Armenia- Tigranes
*USA- Abraham Lincoln
Lakota- Crazy Horse
Iroquois- Hiawatha
Mississippians- Birdman?
Inuit- Mikak
Navajo- Chee Dodge
Ute- Chipeta
Mexico- Benito Juarez
Canada- John Macdonald
Shoshone- Pocatello
*Aztecs- Montezuma
Haiti- Toussaint L'Ouverture
Gran Colombia- Simon Bolivar
Brazil- Pedro II
*Inca- Pachacuti
Argentina- Juan Manuel de Rosas
*Mali- Mansa Musa
*Egypt- Hatshepsut
*Zulu- Shaka
Ethiopia- Menelik II
South Africa- Nelson Mandela
Carthage- Dido/Hannibal
Morocco- Abdul Ghalib
Ashante- Osei Kofi Tutu
Bornu- Idris Alooma
Fulani- Bello
Kongo- Lukemi lua Nimi
Kitara- Ndahura
*Arabia- Muawiya I
Babylon- Nebuchadnezzar II
Hittites- Suppiluliuma
Israel- Solomon
*Persia- Cyrus
Mughals- Akbar
*India- Gandhi
Gurkani- Timur
*Mongolia- Genghis Khan
*China- Yong-le/Wu Xetian
*Japan- Meiji
Vietnam- Trung(s)
*Khmer- Jayavarman II
Indonesia- Hayam Wuruk/ Gajah Mada
Chola- Parantaka I
Tibet- Songtsen Gampo
Korea- Sejong
Siam- Taksin
Australia- John Curtin
Maori- Te Rauangaanga
Philippines- Dayang Kalangitan
Polynesia- Kamehameha
So, now that's all done. Now to the arguments!
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[Table] IAmA: I am the Principal Investigator for the NASA OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission, AMA!

Verified? (This bot cannot verify AMAs just yet)
Date: 2013-12-10
Link to submission (Has self-text)
Questions Answers
Greetings Dr. Lauretta, i have a few questions, how is 5819 doing and are there plans to probe it too? Asteroid 5819 Lauretta is continuing on its orbital trajectory through the Solar System. My astronomer friends snap a photo for me every once in awhile but there is no plan for a dedicated science campaign.
How did the idea of a sample return mission from an asteroid came about? What is the inspiration behind it? The OSIRIS-REx concept originated with Lockheed-Martin, who is always looking for new Principal Investigators for their planetary science missions. They approached Mike Drake, the original PI, in 2004 about collaborating on a sample-return mission. Mike invited me to be his Deputy at that time - which I gladly accepted. Mike and I worked on the mission concept for seven years before being accepted by NASA. Mike passed away in September 2011 - four months after winning the contract. I was promoted to PI at that time.
Can we not go faster in going to Bennu? Like less than year. What technogy is need to speed up voyage to asteroid? We can go faster to get to Bennu. However, we need to not only get to Bennu - but also go in the same direction at the same speed. Thus, if we get there more quickly, we need giant rocket engines and a lot of fuel to slow down for the rendezvous.
What is the story behind the name Osiris Rex and its Egyptian theme? I came up with the name based on the mythology of Osiris as the bringer of life to the Nile Valley - Bennu represents the type of object that may have brought the seeds of life to Earth. It is also a crazy acronym - which fits in with the way NASA names their missions,
What will happen to Osiris Rex after it return, will it remain in orbit or crash or an extension mission will be planned? OSIRIS-REx will eject the sample return capsule four hours before the spacecraft hits the top of the atmosphere at 27,000 mph. The spacecraft will then perform a deflection burn and be placed into a stable heliocentric orbit that will not intersect any object of astrobiological interest (planetary protection requirement). It may be available for an extended mission at the discretion of NASA.
Will you be able to study fragments of the Chelyabinsk meteorite? Why was it not detected earlier? Thanks in advance. We have fragments of Chelyabinsk in our lab at the University of Arizona and are actively studying it. It snuck up on us because it came out of the Sun and it was a relatively small object - we are mandated by Congress to detect objects 140-m in diameter and larger - the Chelyabinsk bolide was ~20-m across.
Awesome work! I'm wondering, how and why was Bennu selected for this mission? Do we know if we will be able to even retrieve a sample from it? (ie: do we know the composition of the surface? Are there enough small rocks on it to collect?) Also, as a current U of A undergraduate (Aerospace Engineering), what's the best way for a student to become involved in this kind of work/field? Target selection for OSIRIS-REx was originally driven by engineering constraints. First, we decided to use a Lockheed-Martin heritage spacecraft. That meant using solar power and trying to keep the thermal control system relatively simple. Using solar power limited how far out into the Solar System we could travel - setting a limit of 1.8 AU on the aphelion of the target's orbit. The thermal control limit constrained how close to the Sun we could go - limiting the perihelion of the orbit. Together these two constraints defined the semi-major axis and eccentricity of potential targets.
The next constraint was the total energy of the mission. We needed a target with relatively low delta-V (total change in velocity). We also needed a trajectory that limited the re-entry velocity of the Sample Return Capsule - since we are using a heritage design from the Stardust mission. These parameters limited the inclination of the asteroid orbit to less than 10 degrees.
These orbital constraints rapidly collapsed the number of potential targets to around 200 asteroids. The next constraint was on the size of the object. It turns out that asteroids smaller than ~200 meters tend to be rapid rotators - some spinning once every minute or so. We used absolute magnitude as a proxy for size - dropping the number of potential targets to about 20.
The final criterion was driven by science. We wanted a target that was likely to be rich in carbon and water - a carbonaceous asteroid. Of the twenty or so targets that met our dynamical constraints - only five were known to have low albedo and therefore likely to be carbonaceous. Bennu rose to the top of the list based on the extensive ground-based data set - particularly the fantastic shape model information that had been obtained from the Arecibo and Goldstone Planetary Radar telescopes.
There are three lines of evidence that constrain the average grain size on Bennu. First, in addition to the shape model, the radar astronomy also provided information on the radar polarization ratio. Basically, we transmit a beam with a specific circular polarization and measure how much of the returned energy comes back with the opposite polarization. These data show that the transition to radar roughness occurs at a scale smaller than lowest radar wavelength - 3 cm.
Next, we used the Spitzer space telescope to determine the average thermal inertia of the surface. Lower thermal inertia values mean smaller grain sizes. These data suggest that the average grain size on Bennu is on the order of a millimeter.
Finally, the asteroid shape reveals a prominent ridge at the equator - suggesting that there is loose material moving around on the surface and collecting at the geopotential lows (the valleys of Bennu) - which lie at the equator.
To get involved with OSIRIS-REx - come talk to me!
What's the biggest challenge in designing the reentry capsule? Also could I get an internet high five? The good news is that we are reusing the capsule design from the NASA Stardust mission. The only modification that is required is on the main deck to accommodate our sample collection device, which is different from Stardust. This is a minor modification - the SRC is one of the easy parts!
How do you hope to tie in your investigations at Bennu to those of Dawn at Ceres? If so, what are your plans? Ceres is a C-type asteroid - so slightly different spectroscopically from Bennu. However, we will have data that is comparable to the Dawn VIR instrument, so that will be an interesting study. We are more spectrally similar to Pallas - which is a B-type asteroid like Bennu. We have no plans to perform the comparative study - sounds like a great opportunity for a participating scientist!
Did your mission engineers take any cues from the Hayabusa probe? What steps are they planning to take to avoid computer glitches during the sample collection phase? We have studied the Hayabusa mission intently. Our main take away messages are to 1) allow enough time for the team to thoroughly characterize Bennu before sampling; 2) simulate the descent to the asteroid surface thousands of times before committing to the sampling; 3) perform a series of rehearsals for each stage of the sampling sequence - plan on repeating each step if one does not go according to pan; and 4) fly capable reaction wheels - this failure doomed Hayabusa from the start.
Does the potential for an asteroid collision worry you on an emotional level? I do not worry about getting hit by an asteroid on a daily basis. It is much more dangerous to cross the street - which I do worry about.
Also, what's your favorite Christmas song? My favorite Christmas is Happy X-mas (War is Over) by John Lennon.
What is the 2013-2023 total budget? What part of the budget is already secure? And where does the money come from? Thanks for doing this! The total mission budget (2011 - 2025 - including two years to analyze the sample after Earth Return) is $1.05 billion.
Because of the way that the Federal Government operates - the budget is secure through January 15, 2014 - when the current continuing resolution expires. However, we are a high priority for NASA planetary science and have strong support in Congress so we are confident that our funding will continue to be authorized.
The money ultimately comes from the American and Canadian tax payers - thank you!
But how much money is the actual operating budget? Doesn't the University of Arizona take out a huge chunk? Also, how do you allocate money to the different instrument teams because your group is working with other institutions. Do their budgets come out of your budget? Thanks, from a future P.I. The UA charges an indirect cost (IDC) rate of 51.5%. That means that for every dollar of direct cost that I spend at UA - I have to pay an additional 51.5 cents in IDC. These funds cover the cost of the facility, support services like maintenance, and the overall cost of running the University.
Most of our money (something like 80%) goes into our labor expenses (which includes benefits and IDC). OSIRIS-REx is all about the people.
Every organization has an overhead expense, you can't get away from paying this cost. For-profit companies also include award fee as part of their price tag.
On a lot of agencies SBIRs we're limited to 40% IDC. The UA got a good deal. Also the first time I've seen the finer points of federal contracting discussed on here. One of the most unexpected results of becoming PI for me - I have to know everything about the federal budget process and cost management. Ask away!
Hello Dr. Lauretta, I realize that there are many components to this project, but this question is in regards to the possible presence of the building blocks of life. I have read a few papers discussing the resistance of certain microbes to our most robust antimicrobial techniques (ex. UV light, saline solutions). How would microbiologists recognize pristine extraterrestrial proteins or nucleic acids? How will you keep your clean room clean? --Thank you! OSIRIS-REx has a level-1 requirement to return a "pristine" sample of Bennu. We have a pragmatic definition of pristine - which means that no foreign material introduced into the sample will hamper the scientific investigation.
We split our contamination efforts into two categories - Contamination Control and Contamination Knowledge. Contamination Control seeks to minimize the contamination of the sample using prudent and established spacecraft fabrication processes. Contamination Knowledge seeks to document any contamination that may be introduced to the sample. Together we can both keep the sample clean and document any foreign material that is present in the returned sample.
The spacecraft fabrication clean room is a standard Class 10,000 room. The curation facility will be much cleaner - Class 100.
What is the plan for extracting the sample from the asteriod? We are using a device called the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM). The basic concept is to contact the asteroid surface with a large air filter (something that would look right at home sitting on top of a carburetor from a '57 Chevy), then blast the surface with a pulse of high-purity nitrogen gas. The gas agitates and fluidizes the regolith, which expands into the TAGSAM device. If we fill the collection chamber - we have ~2 kilograms of material. TAGSAM can collect particles up to 3-cm across. We also have contact pads on the outer edge of TAGSAM. We will collect particles less than 1 millimeter as long as we touch the surface.
I read every comment and all of your replies. This is so interesting, thank you. I am not an expert, nor a student in this field, but a housewife married to a science fiction fanatic and we have 3 amateur astronomers. My questions focus on when you are at your described third moment terror (which is my biggest moment of terror for you)...the moment of TAG, when you send the spacecraft down to the surface of Bennu to collect the sample. What type of suction or attachment, if any, will you be using on the space craft to attach the landing? Is the landing similar to a plane landing on an air craft carrier? Do you have a plan B in case it sticks too much to the asteroid? A fun question if you prefer not to discuss my other questions: What is the most common household item you will be using on this mission? We do not have any system to anchor the spacecraft to the asteroid during sample acquisition. Instead, we have very tight control on the spacecraft state during the descent. We have to contact with an approach velocity of 10 cm/s (+/-2) and a lateral velocity of 0 cm/s (+/-2). The spacecraft can not be rotating about any of its axes. If we hit the surface under these conditions then our momentum will be absorbed by a constant-force spring in the robotic arm. If we start to rotate, the attitude control thrusters will engage to damp out any angular momentum. After five seconds of contact we fire our back-away thrusters and get out of dodge.
These back-away thrusters should be sufficient to unstick us from the surface. In the case where we are totally jammed our only option is to sever the sample head from the arm - but that would mean loss of the sample.
As for the most common household item - the spacecraft has a surprisingly large amount of tape on it! Though, of course, the tape is space qualified.
Hey Dr. Lauretta! Super excited for this. Where is OSIRIS-REx launching from, where will it return, and what parts will be discarded in between? OSIRIS-REx is launching from the Kennedy Space Center on an Atlas V 411 launch vehicle in 2016. The sample return capsule (SRC) returns to the Utah Test and Training Range in 2023. The SRC will remain intact through atmospheric entry with the exception of a small amount of the heat shield - which will ablate in the atmosphere. The main spacecraft will remain in space and likely be available for an extended mission. The SRC ultimately ends up in the NASA Space-Exposed Hardware facility - or maybe in the Smithsonian like the Stardust capsule!
How did you transition from working on chondrite meteorites to the bigger-picture project of being the principal investigator on OSIRIS-REx? -Arecibo radar minion. When Mike Drake, the original PI for OSIRIS-REx, starting put his team together in 2004, he invited me to be his deputy because of my knowledge of carbonaceous chondrites and the connection to the origin of life. In the seven years of proposal writing between 2004 and selection in 2011 I learned all about spacecraft engineering, mission management, and cost, and schedule control.
I heard something about how this mission could help us understand how moons are formed. Can you expand on that? OSIRIS-REx will help us understand how asteroid satellites are formed. A leading theory for binary asteroid formation involves the YORP effect. Basically, YORP acts to either increase or decrease the rotation rate of an asteroid. As an asteroid's spin rate increases - material will start to migrate from the poles down to the equator. This mechanism may be responsible for the observed equatorial ridge on Bennu. If the spin rate continues to increase - the material may be spun off the equator and accrete into a binary companion.
What is your plan after the O-Rex mission is finished? This work was pioneered by Kevin Walsh, a member of my science team.
Do you think you'll participate in any other missions? As for Mr. Fantastic - I am fortunate enough to be married to someone who looks like Sue Storm!
I am graduating in December with a degree in Mechanical/Nuclear Engineering from an ok-engineering school. Not Ivy League or top 25 in the country. I have an average resume: ok GPA, some work experience, and activities. What can I do after graduation that would impress NASA and get me an interview someday? I would love to work at NASA when I'm older, but how do I make myself stand out over MIT, Standard, and Cornell grads? I suggest a couple of options. If you really have a great idea and are the adventurous type, start a new company to develop your product. Try to get in space as an experimental payload - say on a student CubeSat.
- Thanks for all the responses. However, I would like to emphasize that I am graduating this December. Opportunities for me to do research with professors and apply for internships has passed =(. Mainly looking for advice on how to add onto my resume after graduation to impress NASA folks. Work on my own projects? Invent something bad-ass? Gain experience working in a certain industry? You could also go to work for one of the "New Space" companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, or Planetary Resources - or one of the "Old Space" companies like Lockheed-Martin, Ball Aerospace, or Boeing.
Thanks for doing an AMA. Do you think OSIRIS-REx is the most complex backronym currently operating at Nasa? :-) OSIRIS-REx is both an acronym and backronym. I came up with OSIRIS when we first starting proposing this mission concept to the NASA Discovery program. I was the Deputy PI and my job was to write the science justification for the mission. I started doodling with the key science concepts and wrote down Origins, Spectroscopy, Resources, and Security. OSIRIS jumped right out at me! I then added some vowels to fill out the word.
We added the REx when we made the transition from Discovery to New Frontiers. Our previous proposal efforts had scored well - but we did not fit in the cost box. We wanted to keep the OSIRIS brand name but indicate that we were bigger and better than a Discovery mission. The name OSIRIS-REx was tossed out early on - sort of in jest - but the name had a nice ring to it. I came up with Regolith Explorer to back into the name.
I am a bit ashamed that this is the first time that I hear about this project... It sounds fantastically interesting and I look forward to learn much more about it! I am glad that this AMA has done its job - help spread the word!
May I ask you, what do you dream of finding in that asteroid? Best case scenario with your wildest fantasies, or if you prefer your most optimistic yet realistic possibility. What would be in your personal opinion and experience the best outcome of this mission? The greatest treasure that OSIRIS-REx can obtain, in my opinion, is something incredibly rich in carbon and organic molecules. Organic compounds in meteorites are present at the part-per-million level. I would love to find out that Bennu is one giant extraterrestrial tar ball.
As firing of the rockets that will deliver the payload depends on a lot of factors weather, malfunctioning... etc... what is the time frame(the number of days that the launch can be delayed) you can change the schedule launch if there is a problem and still reach the asteroid... is this event factored in your calculation?? We have a 39-day launch window that opens on September 3, 2016. Right now we are designing to a 30-minute opportunity each day. However, we have some extra capability on the launch vehicle so we may open up the daily window to two hours.
thanks for doing the AMA,,, science ftw. If we don't make the window in 2016. We have to wait one year for another launch opportunity in September 2017. Our current budget is not sufficient to cover such an extended slip - we have to no choice but to make the 2016 window!
Hi Dante! Thanks for doing the AMA! What inspired you to get into astronomy and how did you get to where you are now? You still have yet to buy the O-REx themed Bratfest shirt... For my back story - read my blog post here
What did you study in school, and what is your degree in? I've always wondered what you have to be educated in to get a job like this. My college life is the subject of a recent blog post - here
In summary, I have a B.S. degree from the University of Arizona with a double major in Mathematics and Physics. I also have a B.A. in Japanese, but that was just for fun.
I have a Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Washington University in St. Louis with an emphasis in Geochemistry.
I did my postdoctoral research at Arizona State University, where I learned transmission electron microscopy and mass spectroscopy.
Do you, or anyone in your team play Kerbal Space Program? What are your thoughts on the game and how it affects interest in orbital mechanics and space-travel? I am a huge fan of KSP. I play it on my own and with my two sons. I also use it as a teaching tool. Together with other staff members from OSIRIS-REx i lead an after school science club at a local Boys and Girls Club. I set up a screen and projector and have the kids help me build and fly different spacecraft designs. I find it to be a great way to convey basic orbital mechanics to middle and grade schoolers. I could really use a more education-centered version of the program so the younger kids could play it one their own more easily.
My project scientist has designed and flown an OSIRIS-REx like mission to Minimus. Many of the software engineers in our Science Operations and Processing Center are also Kerbal fanatics.
What is the plan if you get to the asteroid and it turns out to be an S-Type? Get a sample and bring it home.
I work in aerospace doing stuff like rocket propulsion. I've never stayed at a job for more than three years. How do you stay on one project for a full decade without getting kind of bored? End to end - OSIRIS-REx will consume twenty years of my life. The mission constantly presents new and interesting challenges - and I am always learning something new. The job changes all the time - especially now as we transition from paper engineering to seeing real hardware come in.
Do you work on other projects during the quieter times? I know Alan Stern has about fifty projects, in addition to being PI on New Horizons. I still have a meteorite research group at UA and try to keep up with the latest cosmochemistry research. I am also a father - which presents its own set of challenges and rewards every day.
Hell of a commitment. Have you ever done one of the Antarctic meteor collection expeditions? It's something I'd really like to do. I was fortunate enough to be a member of the 2002-2003 Antarctic Search for Meteorites. We wrote a blog while we were out there - you can check it out here.
How do you plan to avoid damage to the spacecraft from regolith that is kicked up by the nitrogen gas but is not captured by TAGSAM? Tough question - we are studying this now. Ask me after CDR!
Once you get the sample from the asteroid, what are you planning to do with it? Distribute it around the world to any qualified laboratory to analyze in support of our science objectives.
Are you collaborating with the possible asteroid retrieval/redirect mission? OSIRIS-REx is a PI-led mission in the New Frontiers Program, part of the NASA Science Mission Directorate. ARRM is a proposed mission in the Human Exploration program. We are not directly involved but I have offered to help ARRM. They just need to ask!
Do you have a suggestion on which asteroid is the best candidate for retrieval? EDIT I like 2006 RH120 - might have migrated in and out of the Earth-Trojan population.
Any advice for a soon-to-be aerospace engineering graduate? Working for NASA is a career life goal of mine and I'm curious about the general path that the engineers follow. Thanks for this great AMA! Most of the engineers that I know work for one of the big aerospace firms. Lockheed Martin has built the majority of recent planetary exploration spacecraft for the United States - I recommend trying to get a job at their facility in Littleton, CO.
Other options include getting on to the staff at one of the major "space-faring" universities like the University of Arizona, the University of Colorado, CalTech, or MIT.
There are many smaller engineering firms that provide components and support to NASA missions like the Southwest Research Institute, the Space Dynamics Lab, or ASC-3D (all contributing to OSIRIS-REx).
Finally, there is the "New Space" companies that are providing services to NASA like SpaceX and Blue Origin.
The Russian meteorite that fell in February has been called a comet, meteor, super bolide and small asteroid. What is your opinion and what is the difference? The Chelyabinsk meteorite is an ordinary chondrite meteorite - the most common type of meteorite that lands on Earth. It was definitely a small asteroid - most likely an S-type near-Earth object.
How personally taxing is it to be in charge of a NASA mission? It is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. I stay motivated by the knowledge that I will be one of the first people to fly a spacecraft to an asteroid see a new world for the first time - and bring a piece of it back to Earth.
When and where can I sign up to go work on an asteroid mine/factory? Am I too early for that? OK I brought a tent and a sleeping bag. I'll wait. Planetary Resources is accepting job applications.
Will researchers from other institutions write grant proposals to obtain some meteorite sample for analysis or is there already a designated group at the UA that will analyze the sample? --Thanks. The samples will be available to any qualified researcher from around the world. Our plan is to spend the first six months producing a catalog of the returned sample. Once we publish this document, NASA will start accepting proposals for sample distribution.
Do you and your team work in Houston? Or somewhere else? The OSIRIS-REx team is spread all over the world. I am a Professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson. We have ~100 people working on the project here. The main workforce is at the Lockheed-Martin facility in Littleton, Colorado - where they are building the spacecraft, including the sample acquisition mechanism and the sample return capsule. The third major partner is the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. GSFC is responsible for Project Management, Systems Engineering, Safety and Mission Assurance, as well as the visible and infrared spectrometer (OVIRS). Our other main partners are Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, KinetX Aerospace (the Simi Valley, California office), the Canadian Space Agency, the French Space Agency (CNES\), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the United Launch Alliance.
Ultimately, the samples will end up at the Astromaterials Curation Facility at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The science team is spread all over the United States and also includes members from Canada, France, Italy, and the UK.
What's your favorite asteroid movie? Tie between The Little Prince and The Empire Strikes Back - just kidding!
The best one so far is Hayabusa
Does your mission have any correlation with NASA's plan to capture an asteroid and have it orbit the moon? OSIRIS-REx is developing key technologies that are applicable to any asteroid mission including.
Astronomical characterization in support of mission design.
Measurement of asteroid global characteristics
Detailed characterization of an asteroid surface at sub-cm scales.
Mission-critical data processing and analysis on a tactical timeline.
Accurate navigation in microgravity.
Delivery to a specific location on the asteroid surface.
Successful contact and acquisition of material from an asteroid surface.
We have no direct connection to the Asteroid Redirect Mission.
Mining of asteroids has been an idea for a long time to increase resources. Does this project have any aims to pursue that avenue? Part of the OSIRIS-REx acronym is Resource Identification. The most direct application of our mission to asteroid mining is in the technologies and proximity operations that allow you maneuver a spacecraft around a small asteroid.
As an Arizona alumnus, I'd like to start by saying Bear Down, but I do have a serious question: how do you feel the university setting benefits your work? Arizona's reputation as a center of planetary science speaks for itself but I'd really like to read your perspective. A University setting is a great place for a NASA mission. I started my career in the NASA Space Grant program at UA. It is very gratifying to be able to recruit the next generation of space scientists and engineers from my Alma mater.
We also have access to a wide range of student talents - including graphic arts, videography, business management, etc.
How large does an asteroid have to be before its gravity will allow you to land a spacecraft on it, verses just floating next to it? The rendezvous with Bennu is an exercise in formation flying. We could anchor ourselves to the surface - similar to the Philae lander on the ESA Rosetta mission - if we wanted extended surface operations.
The acceleration due to gravity on Ceres, the largest asteroid (and a dwarf planet) is ~28 milli-g (1/36 that of the Earth). Having flown on the NASA vomit comet at 5 milli-g I can tell you that this is still a very low acceleration and any spacecraft would likely need some sort of anchoring or propulsion system to remain stable on the surface.
So how long do you give before the program is cancelled? All major contracts are in place - and flight hardware items have been procured. This means that there is little money to save by cancelling the program. Also, we have strong support at NASA HQ and in Congress so I feel good about the funding line. The wild card is always the Congressional appropriation process. . .
How long do you think it will take for asteroid mining to become a viable industry? The answer really depends on how serious nations are about extending the human presence in space. If the US, China, India, or other agencies really move into space, then an industry centered around supplying life-support materials in situ will have a credible business model.
The idea of returning precious metals to the surface of the Earth is more problematic. We still produce sufficient quantities of platinum, gold, and other rare metals to cover our needs. The law of supply and demand suggests that the supply is adequate. I don't expect this situation to change in the next few decades.
Am i going to get to be an asteroid miner or should I start focusing on getting my son ready to be an asteroid miner? You can make a good living hunting meteorites - a form of asteroid mining. Your son probably has a better chance of a career on the Asteroid Frontier.
Last updated: 2013-12-14 02:59 UTC
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