2019.A.1.2. The MILO Institute: A New Model for Deep Space Exploration


Jim Bell (1)
Lisa Callahan (2)
Betsy Cantwell (3)
Lon Levin (4)
Scott Smas (1)
Lindsay Wolff (2)
David Thomas (3)

  1. ASU, U.S.A.
  2. Lockheed Martin, U.S.A.
  3. ASURE, U.S.A.
  4. GEOshare, U.S.A.




space science, NEO, NEA, asteroid, flyby, deep space


For every amazing deep space robotic mission carried out by recognized space agencies, at least ten other missions were proposed but never flown. Most of those missions would have achieved exciting and compelling science had the resources existed to carry them out. Clearly, much more science and exploration can be done beyond what is funded today. This fact is the basis for creating the MILO Space Science Institute, a non-profit entity created within Arizona State University (ASU). The Institute was founded in close association with Lockheed Martin and GEOshare, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin devoted to enabling new collaborative mission models. The MILO Institute’s mission is to augment the work of traditional space agencies by enabling more frequent, affordable, and science-driven missions to be flown. The MILO Institute will assemble a consortium of such organizations to jointly conduct new deep space missions.

Our first mission, NEOshare, will baseline a dedicated launch of at least six independent Cubesat/Smallsat class spacecraft to perform close flyby encounters of a diverse set of Near Earth Objects (NEOs). Baseline payload instruments would enable each spacecraft to characterize in detail the surface geology, mineralogy, ice-volatile-organic inventory, density, and other properties. Using reasonable assumptions about launch and spacecraft delta-V capabilities, we have identified more than 100 currently known asteroids and 20 currently known comets to consider studying up close. Some of the flyby spacecraft could be retargeted to a second flyby object after their first encounter. In some mission models the consortium could double — in a single mission — the number of asteroids and comets visited so far by all other missions flown to date.

Affordability is provided through cost sharing by the organizations who participate in the Institute. The consortium model enables each member to pay a fraction of the total mission cost. Members will be given the opportunity to build their own instruments and spacecraft, and participate in mission planning and operations. Institute members will have access to Space Mission Infrastructure, along with advising from ASU, Lockheed Martin and GEOshare. The MILO Institute presents an unprecedented opportunity for space science programs around the globe to engage in exploration and scientific discovery, accelerate their technology and grow a highly skilled workforce.


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