S78-27138 (June 1977)— This painting shows the beginning of a mission to an Earth-approaching asteroid. Asteroids contain many of the major elements which provide the basis for industry and life on Earth. Orbital sunrise greets the start of the suggested first such retrieval mission in this artist’s concept by Denise Watt. A NASA-sponsored study on space manufacturing held at Ames Research Center (ARC) in summer of 1977 provided much of the technical basis for Watt’s painting. “Asteroid-1” is the central long structure and the propulsion unit is the long tubular structure enveloped by stiffening yard arms and guy wires. Solar cells running the length of the propulsion system convert the sunlight into electricity which is used to power the propulsion system. During the mission these solar arrays would be oriented toward the Sun to gather maximum power. In the right foreground is a second mass-driver unit being constructed from material shipped from Earth via these Shuttle craft.
An orbital construction platform in permanent orbit provides power, supplies depot and work volume within which work proceeds. Note: NASA currently has no formal plans for a human expedition to Mars or the Moon. This image and others displayed may not reflect the hardware and overall concept of possible visits to either of those celestial bodies. However, the art work represented here serves as a comprehensive study of various concepts and ideas developed as possibilities over a period of years. The renderings were accomplished by NASA and/or NASA-commissioned artists.