[meteorite-list] NASA Seeks Additional Information for Asteroid Redirect Mission Spacecraft

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon, 18 May 2015 16:11:46 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <201505182311.t4INBkbr003813_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>

May 18, 2015

RELEASE 15-094

NASA Seeks Additional Information for Asteroid Redirect Mission Spacecraft

NASA has issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking ideas from American
companies for a spacecraft design that could be used for both the agency's
Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) and a robotic satellite servicing mission in
low-Earth orbit.

In the early-2020s NASA plans to launch the Asteroid Redirect Mission, which
will use a robotic spacecraft to capture a large boulder from the surface of
a near-Earth asteroid and move it into a stable orbit around the moon for
exploration by astronauts, all in support of advancing the nation's journey
to Mars.

NASA also has been studying the "Restore-L" mission concept, during which a
spacecraft would use dexterous robotic systems to grapple and refuel a
government satellite in low-Earth orbit. Restore-L would bring to operational
status capabilities needed for future commercial satellite servicing by
demonstrating technologies and reducing risk.

"Today's call for ideas from our industry partners is another important
milestone for the Asteroid Redirect Mission, a critical capability
demonstration mission that's part of our stepping stone approach for sending
American astronauts to Mars in the 2030s," said NASA Associate Administrator
Robert Lightfoot. "As part of our acquisition strategy, we're asking for more
information toward the ARM spacecraft concept and also on commonality with a
notional robotic satellite servicing spacecraft."

The RFI is not a request for proposal or formal procurement and therefore is
not a solicitation or commitment by the government. Deadline for submissions
is 45 days after public posting of the RFI. The full RFI is available at:


Following its rendezvous and touchdown with the target asteroid, the uncrewed
ARM spacecraft will deploy robotic arms to capture a large boulder from its
surface. It then will begin a multi-year journey to redirect the boulder into
orbit around the moon.

Throughout its mission, the ARM robotic spacecraft will test a number of
capabilities needed for future human missions, including advanced Solar
Electric Propulsion (SEP), a valuable capability that converts sunlight to
electrical power through solar arrays and then uses the resulting power to
propel charged atoms to move a spacecraft. This method of propulsion can move
massive cargo very efficiently. While slower than conventional chemical
rocket propulsion, SEP-powered spacecraft require significantly less
propellant and fewer launches to support human exploration missions, which
could reduce costs.

This RFI seeks spacecraft designs that may include taking advantage of Xenon
capacity SEP, single or multiple component architectures and cost-sharing

Future SEP-powered spacecraft could pre-position cargo or vehicles for future
human missions into deep space, either awaiting crews at Mars or staged
around the moon as a waypoint for expeditions to the Red Planet.

ARM's SEP-powered robotic spacecraft will test new trajectory and navigation
techniques in deep space, working with the moon's gravity to place the
asteroid in a stable lunar orbit called a distant retrograde orbit. This
location is a suitable staging point for astronauts to rendezvous with a deep
space habitat that will carry them to Mars.

Before the large asteroid boulder is moved to lunar orbit, NASA will use the
opportunity to test planetary defense techniques to inform mitigation of
potential asteroid impact threats in the future. The experience and knowledge
acquired through this operation will help NASA develop options to move an
asteroid off an Earth-impacting course, if and when that becomes necessary.

NASA's Near Earth Objects Program continues to implement new capabilities and
upgrades to existing projects for detecting and cataloging asteroids. The
agency also has engaged non-traditional partners and the public in the hunt
for undetected asteroids through the NASA's Asteroid Grand Challenge
activities, including prize competitions. In March, the agency announced the
release of a software application based on an algorithm created through a
NASA challenge that has the potential to help increase the number of asteroid
detections in collected sky images.

For more information about NASA's Asteroid Initiative, visit:


For more information about NASA's robotic satellite servicing capabilities
office, visit:


Received on Mon 18 May 2015 07:11:46 PM PDT

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