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June 29, 2012 AT 1:03 am

The First Private Deep-Space Enterprise Will Map Asteroids

It’s looking like the first private deep space endeavor will be to map asteroids. From NatGeo:

The first privately funded deep-space mission will launch an asteroid-hunting telescope in 2017 or 2018, project managers announced today.

The ambitious project is being developed by the B612 Foundation, a nonprofit named for the asteroid home of the title character in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book The Little Prince.

Led by former astronauts and veteran NASA astronomers, the foundation today kicked off a fundraising effort to build and launch the infrared telescope—dubbed Sentinel—which will create an “asteroid map” of the inner solar system.

Cost estimates for the full mission haven’t been released, but the spacecraft itself is expected to have a price tag of a few hundred million U.S. dollars.

The mission’s goal is to illustrate the present and future paths of near-Earth asteroids, including any that may pose collision threats to our planet.


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