Space Systems/Loral will work with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory to conduct design studies on a spacecraft for potential use in JPL’s Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission.
The ARRM spacecraft will be built to land on an asteroid, extract a boulder, and redirect it into a lunar orbit in preparation for astronauts to visit in the 2020s, the company said Thursday.
NASA intends to use the mission as a proving ground for future human expeditions to Mars through the demonstration of a solar electric propulsion based spacecraft moving and transportation of payloads as heavy as 20 tons.
SSL said it would base the design on its geostationary satellite, 80 units of which are currently on orbit.
The company also works with JPL to study the utilization of its spacecraft bus on a potential NASA Discovery mission to the metal asteroid named Psyche, SSL said.