Private companies plan to launch missions to Apophis asteroid

In 2029, Apophis asteroid will approach a record distance from Earth. NASA is already preparing the OSIRIS-APEX mission for its research. However, it is possible that a number of private companies will also join the research of this dangerous space rock.

Blue Ring spacecraft will explore the asteroid Apophis. Source: Blue Origin

Asteroid Apophis

A few years ago, the asteroid Apophis was considered the most dangerous body in the Solar System for humanity. In 2029, it should approach the Earth and previously scientists did not rule out that it would crash into our planet. Given that the space rock has a diameter of about 350 m, the consequences of this must have been catastrophic for all mankind.

However, over time, scientists have found that not everything is so bad. It is precisely calculated that Apophis will not collide with the Earth either in 2029 or over the next 100 years. However, in less than five years, it should still fly closer from us than the geostationary satellites are located. According to scientists, such a large space rock can be seen up close once every 1,000 years. 

Therefore, scientists cannot fail to take advantage of this opportunity to explore it. For this purpose, they plan to send the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to it. After it brought samples from the asteroid Bennu to Earth, it can still perform missions in space, so it was renamed OSIRIS-APEX. It should get closer to Apophis soon after the asteroid flies past the Earth.

Private missions

However, private companies also want to join the Apophis research. The main contender for sending a probe to it is now Blue Origin. They plan to send their new Blue Ring spacecraft to the space guest. It will carry 13 different types of payload, which will solve the mysteries of the celestial rock.

It is expected that the Blue Ring will be able to meet with Apophis even before its approach to Earth and will remain close to it throughout the entire passage of the Earth. However, for this it will have to launch in October 2027 on the rocket of Bezos’ main competitor Elon Musk.

Another mission to Apophis may be a spacecraft created by the DROID team from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. They are now collaborating with ExLabs to create a small Space Exploration and Resource Vehicle, or SERV, to explore the space rock. If everything goes well, it should be launched before May 2028 in order to reach the asteroid in February 2029.

There is also a project to send a Janus spacecraft to Apophis. It was created by NASA in order to work in tandem with Psyche. However, since the launch of the main probe was postponed, it remained on Earth. 

The ESA is also working on plans to send spacecraft to the asteroid. They are now considering two possible missions: One called Rapid Apophis Mission for Space Safety, or RAMSES, will be based on the Hera asteroid mission, which is scheduled to launch later this year. The second is a cubesat called Satis. Its development promises to be cheaper, but there is a significant risk of failure.

According to

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