On 15 August 2016,NASA management approved the Asteroid Redirect Mission for movement to Phase B of its design and development-a project lifecycle milestone for the mission.Key Decision Point-B established the content,cost and schedule commitments for Phase B activities.*
The target launch date for the robotic segment of the mission has been set as December 2021;and the crewed segment was given a launch date of 2026,though still in its early concept mission phase.The project's cost cap has been increased from 1.25 to 1.4 billion dollars ex launch vehicle and post-launch operation phase.*
The content of the robotic segment of the mission is to demonstrate advanced,high-power,high-throughput solar electric propulsion;
advanced,high-speed autonomous proximity operations at a low-gravity planetary body;
controlled touchdown and liftoff with a multi-tonne mass from a low-gravity planetary body;
astronaut spacewalk activities for sample selection,extraction,containment and return;
and mission operations of integrated robotic and crewed service stack:all of which are needed for human missions to the Mars system.
With KDP-B under our belt,ARM can now move forward to define partnerships and engagements,said Michele Gates,ARM program director at NASA headquarters in Washington,D.C.For instance,in September,the agency will issue a request for proposals for the robotic spacecraft to aerospace companies that previously worked with the ARM design team on a six-month study of spacecraft concepts to meet mission requirements.*
After collecting the multi-tonne boulder from the asteroid,the rocket ship will slowly edge the boulder to the lunar position.The proposed target asteroid,2008 EV5 (subscript),is a primitive,carbonaceous asteroid believed to be rich in volatility,water and organic compounds.It will be carefully redirected to the Moon,where a series of proving ground missions for the Mars system will be carried out in the 2020s in order to validate mission concepts of human-robotic and spacecraft operations.