Tom Prince

Tom Prince (California Institute of Technology)

Campus PI

Richard M. Murray

Paul Dimotakis (California Institute of Technology)

Campus PI

Michel D. Ingham

John Brophy (Jet Propulsion Laboratory)


Richard M. Murray

Louis Friedman (The Planetary Society - Emeritus)

External Lead


  • Brian Bue, Caltech/JPL
  • George Helou, Caltech Campus
  • Shri Kulkarni, Caltech Campus
  • Russ Laher, Caltech/IPAC
  • Frank Masci, Caltech/IPAC
  • Umaa Rebapragada, Caltech/JPL
  • Nathan Strange, Caltech/JPL


The Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) workshops on the Asteroid Return Mission concept explored and established the feasibility of capturing and returning an entire near-Earth asteroid (NEA) to lunar orbit by the middle of the next decade, and identified the benefits that such an endeavor would provide to NASA, the nation, and the world. This technical development has begun work on select technical issues identified in the study to significantly enhance the prospects of making an asteroid capture and return mission a reality. Selected issues include:

  1. Near Earth Object Observational Effort: initiation of the observation campaign essential for the discovery and characterization of a sufficient number of attractive NEA targets so that mission planning can be performed with confidence;
  2. Mission and System Design: a more detailed mission/system design activity to investigate the details that were beyond the scope of the initial feasibility study;
  3. Concentrating In-Space Solar-Thermal Power: development of key aspects of in-situ concentrated solar power technologies for the extraction of asteroid resources, their use for deep-space transportation of radiation-shielded crew vehicles, and, in the case of extracted water, for example, as a propellant for high-thrust propulsion.