Asteroids may be colonized, become new means of transportation – experts

File Image of Earth Orbit and Asteroids

NOVOSIBIRSK. Nov 14 (Interfax) – Colonization of asteroids is one of the most promising areas of space exploration, Khrunichev Research Center head Sergei Antonenko said.

“About 10,000 asteroids are circling around the Earth and the asteroid belt consists of approximately 2 million bodies. Their total size is three times large than that of the Earth,” he said at the Technoprom-2013 forum in Novosibirsk on Thursday.

Besides, it is easier to reach some asteroids than the Moon because they pass the Earth at very close distances.

In the opinion of Andrei Degermendzhi, Director of the Biophysics Institute of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, closed-cycle ecosystems may be created inside the small celestial bodies and an asteroid’s rotation will generate gravity.

Many closed-cycle ecosystem technologies may be tested on the Earth, the scientist suggested.

The United States aspires to begin manned flights to asteroids within a few years but it would be much better to develop their interiors rather than to mine mineral resources, Antonenko said.

“Asteroids that have elliptical orbits fly to Jupiter and Mars and may be used as a new means of transportation or a base,” he said.

It is an initial task to drill on the surface of asteroids in order to study their composition. There is nothing but indirect data on asteroid makeup so far, the scientist continued.

A more distant prospect of colonization of planets, including Mars, will result in the appearance of a new human race under the drastically different conditions, such as weaker gravity.

“These new people will never be able to return to the Earth,” he said.

The Technoprom-2013 forum is taking place in Novosibirsk on November 14-15.