Remote material analysis package
The remote material analysis packages (RMAPs) are injected into nearby asteroids via missiles that will immediately begin sending telemetry data back to the pilot and scan operator informing them as to the asteroid's precise material composition. The scan operator of a mining vessel will select an asteroid and decide if it is suitable for scanning based on various criteria. Once the asteroid has been selected and the center of mass is automatically calculated and the scan operator begins the process of gradually scanning for a suitable RMAP insertion point. The mining vessel could contain as few as just a handful of missiles or several dozen missiles armed with RMAP packages.
Once an insertion site has been selected, the location and optimal injection orientation are displayed, and the scan operator may launch an RMAP-equipped missile. The missile's thrust and guidance system are manually controlled, with the objective being to impact the asteroid at the precise point and with the exact orientation dictated via the previous step. The distance from the computer-specified injection position, deviation from the optimal angle, base material of the asteroid, and final impact velocity ultimately determine whether an injection is successful or not.
One interesting aspect of this particular effort is that the confidence of the scan operator plays a significant role. The more optimal the initial insertion point selected – which typically takes more time to achieve – the larger the error can be in the subsequent missile guidance stage and still achieve a successful insertion. More skilled operators, therefore, will often be willing to accept even a mediocre insertion site so that they may quickly proceed to the next stage, confident in their ability to hit the precise location at the specified speed and angle such that they'll still be able to achieve success.