tilting at…asteroids


Don Quijote concept

The final internal study to define the baseline specifications of the Don Quijote mission concept were completed in July 2005 at ESA’s Concurrent Design Facility (CDF). This study was carried out in preparation for the industrial work to commence in early 2006. Several feasible cost-effective yet compelling mission scenarios were identified for the two selected targets.

ESA’s Don Quijote is an asteroid deflection precursor mission concept, designed to assess and validate the technology that one day could be used to deflect an asteroid threatening the Earth…  


ESA’s Don Quijote mission concept consists of two spacecraft which are to be launched in separate interplanetary trajectories:

  • An Orbiter spacecraft, called Sancho After arriving to the target asteroid and be inserted into an orbit around it, it will measure with great accuracy its position, shape, mass, and gravity field for several months before and after the impact of the second spacecraft.

    In addition, the Orbiter will operate as a backup data relay for transferring all the data collected by the Impactor during approach and image the impact from a safe parking position. It will also investigate the surface composition of the asteroid and, after completion of the primary objective, carry out the ASP-DeX.

  • An Impactor spacecraft, named Hidalgo After following a very different route from that of the Orbiter, the spacecraft will Impact an asteroid of approximately 500 m diameter at a relative speed of about 10 km/s. This spacecraft will demonstrate the ability to autonomously hit the target asteroid based on onboard high-resolution camera.


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