NASA Asks Industry for Unmanned Asteroid Retrieval Spacecraft Ideas

space engineeringNASA is seeking ideas from the private sector on how to build a robotic spacecraft technology for future unmanned asteroid and satellite servicing missions.

The agency said Tuesday it aims to launch spacecraft in 2020 to snag a large boulder from a near-Earth asteroid’s surface and place the rock in lunar orbit for examination.

“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 Robert Lightfoot, NASA associate administrator.

NASA wants the ARM probe development initiative to leverage a solar electric propulsion system, single or multiple component architectures and a cost-sharing arrangement.

The agency also plans to test methods for defending Earth against asteroid impact threats through the program.

Industry has also been asked to submit feedback on the agency’s planned Restore-L mission to use robotic technology to hold and refuel low-Earth orbit government satellites.

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