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Title    NASA to 'Lasso' a Comet to Hitchhike Across the Solar System
Date    Thursday September 03 2015, @05:05PM
Author    LaminatorX
from the freight-train-hopping-IN-SPAAAAAACE! dept.

evilviper writes:

Traveling around space can be hard and require a lot of fuel, which is part of the reason NASA has a spacecraft concept that would hitch a free ride on one of the many comets and asteroids speeding around our solar system at 22,000 miles per hour (on the slow end). Comet Hitchhiker, developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, would feature a reusable tether system to replace the need for propellant for entering orbit and landing on objects.

The spacecraft would first cast an extendable tether toward the object and attach itself using a harpoon attached to the tether. Next, it would reel out the tether while applying a brake that harvests energy while the spacecraft accelerates. This allows Comet Hitchhiker to accelerate and slowly match the speed of its ride, and keeping that slight tension on the line harvests energy that is stored on-board for later use, reeling itself down to the surface of the comet or asteroid. A comet hitchhiker spacecraft can obtain up to ~10 km/s of delta-V by using a carbon nanotube (CNT) tether, reaching the current orbital distance of Pluto (32.6 AU) in just 5.6 years.

Unfortunately rocket scientists apparently don't read SN, or they'd know from discussions last year that it simply won't work. It seems that the idea defies "basic orbital mechanics" and "makes no sense".

Original Submission


  1. "evilviper" -
  2. "spacecraft concept that would hitch a free ride" -
  3. "up to ~10 km/s of delta-V by using a carbon nanotube (CNT) tether" -
  4. "defies "basic orbital mechanics" and "makes no sense"" -
  5. "Original Submission" -

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