NASA has completed a design milestone for the robotic segment of the space agency’s two-part Asteroid Redirect Mission that aims to combine robotic and crewed spacecraft operations in the proving ground of deep space missions.
The agency said Tuesday it established scope, cost and schedule commitments for the next phase of activities under the robotic component of ARM to complete the Key Decision Point-B milestone.
NASA also approved the project to move forward to Phase B which involves an independent review of the baseline project design as well as the development of a baseline mission design that is in line with the agency's risk, cost and schedule targets.
In March, the agency moved its target launch date for the robotic mission from 2020 to December 2021 to accommodate the acquisition of industry support for robotic spacecraft development.
“Since its early formulation, NASA has invited mission concept feedback and development ideas from the planetary science community, general public, U.S. and global industry, and international partners,” said ARM Program Director Michele Gates.
“With KDP-B under our belt, ARM can now move forward to define partnerships and opportunities for long-term engagement,” Gates added.
The robotic ARM program plans to issue a solicitation in September to aerospace companies that collaborated with the ARM robotic design team to conduct a six-month study of spacecraft concepts, NASA noted.
The solicitation will seek partner-provided payloads for the robotic spacecraft and include a membership call for an investigation team that will provide technical guidance to ARM’s robotic and crewed missions, according to the agency.
NASA added the robotic spacecraft will be built to explore a near-Earth asteroid, collect a multi-ton boulder and redirect the boulder to an orbit around the moon to help validate concepts for NASA’s Journey to Mars initiative and other deep-space exploration efforts.