NASA seeks robotic spacecraft for asteroids, Mars

WHAT: In support of a mash up of sci-fi dreams – the Armageddon-redirect of a deadly asteroid and the colonization of Mars – NASA is seeking robotic spacecraft concepts from the private sector.

WHY: In the mid-2020s, NASA plans to land a robotic spacecraft on a near-Earth asteroid, capture a boulder from the asteroid and guide it into orbit around the moon for study as part of the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM).

Technologies involved include dexterous robotic systems and advanced Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP); both technologies could play key roles in the future redirection of Earth-bound asteroids and the colonization of Mars.

NASA issued a request for information seeking concepts from industry in support of the mission.

The ARM will test a variety of techniques and technologies that could spur future human exploration of the solar system.

The agency is also exploring the "Restore-L" mission concept, in which a spacecraft would use dexterous robotic systems to grapple and refuel a government satellite in low-Earth orbit – a mission that could benefit from ARM-tested technologies and which could have ready commercial potential.

Responses are due June 29. NASA will host a teleconference May 22 to answer questions and provide additional information about the RFI.

Posted by Zach Noble on May 20, 2015 at 9:28 AM


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