Minecraft Competition – Theo Takla

13 year-old Theo from France created the HALS, or Human Asteroid Landing System.

We really loved Theo’s project and the very useful and detailed explanation he provided, which follows:

Background

HALS was designed to be the first spacecraft to allow humans to land on an asteroid and to take back samples on Earth. During its mission, it will operate as a satellite and as a spacecraft.

  • Number of astronauts: Minimum 2 – Maximum 3
  • Duration of the mission: 2 years

Its mission consists of 3 major phases:

  1. Launch
  2. Fetching the Asteroid
  3. Returning to Earth orbit

Phase 1

It will be launched by NASA’s brand new SLS (Space Launching System). Using the revolutionary Solar Sailing technique, it will go towards the asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter. This technique can be applied to this case because the spacecraft is flying in the opposite direction from the sun.

Phase 2

Using its Piston Powered “Catcher”, it will deploy several harpoons that will grasp an asteroid (chosen on Earth before the mission) and hold it for a while. The astronauts will then come into action. One of them will go out (First man to walk on an Asteroid!) and using a special chainsaw, will cut through a piece of the rock (size still has to be defined). He will safely lock it in the Piston “Catcher”. The rest will be released.

Phase 3

The spacecraft will then refold his solar sail, and use his engines to go back to Earth. When it arrives, it will put itself into orbit and other modules will join with material and people. Its mission is now finished.

Satellite components

Solar Sail

It is used as a replacement for engines. It’s a big flat reflective surface, located around the satellite. It is powered by the sun’s rays. The photons emitted by the sun have momentum. When they bounce off the Solar Sail, they transfer this momentum and it makes the spacecraft go forward. This allows to take much less fuel and be lighter at takeoff.

The Solar Panels

These are used to power the machines inside the cabin and the deployment of the solar sail.

The Antenna

Used to send and receive information and data.

Engines

Used to approach the satellite with the right angle and go back to Earth.

Piston Powered “Catcher”

Used to grasp and hold the Satellite in Phase 2 and to keep the piece of asteroid all the way back.

About the Author

Mara Dambour

Mara Dambour

Learning Zone Writer

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