- Basically, the idea is to use a “harpoon and a tether.” A spacecraft would closely fly by the target, and use an extendable tether that would attach itself to the asteroid using a harpoon. Here’s the rick, then — the craft would reel out the tether while applying a brake, essentially harvesting energy from the comet.
- Once the spacecraft is traveling at the same speed as the comet, then it can land by reeling in the tether. When the craft is to move to another comet or asteroid, then it can use the energy it harvested from earlier. The method could save a lot of fuel.
- Of course, the tether would need to be made out of a super-strong material — possibly carbon nanotubes. The tether would also need to be really long, like 100 to 1000 kilometers long. The next stage for the concept would be to continue simulating it, and potentially testing out “mini-harpoons” at targets that mimic comets or asteroids.
Here’s NASA’s Far-Out Idea to Hitchhike on Comets Across Space
9. 1. 15 by Kif Leswing