|This presentation will provide the latest findings in Asteroid Redirect Mission pre-formulation. The Asteroid Redirect Mission is a compelling, near term utilization of critical exploration capabilities currently under development that enable many future human exploration missions, including the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy lift crew launch vehicle; Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle; high power, long life solar electric propulsion (SEP); advanced rendezvous and extra vehicular activities (EVA); and the International Docking System. Mission concepts leverage on-going capability developments to interact with non-cooperative targets; move large objects in interplanetary space with SEP; implement Orion/robotic SEP vehicle operations; and begin deep space EVAs.
NASA is currently investigating two options for the robotic capture segment of the Asteroid Redirect Mission. In Option A, an inflatable system would be deployed to envelop a 4-10 meter mean diameter near-Earth asteroid (NEA) and redirect it to astable, crew accessible lunar distant retrograde orbit. Option B involves capturing a cohesive, boulder-like mass from a larger 50-100+ meter diameter NEA and transport it to the same orbit. Mission options also enable demonstration of planetary defense aspects and/or deflection techniques. With either capture option, a substantial asteroid mass will be present in a stable lunar orbit for exploration and sampling by astronauts. Orion will be launched into cis-lunar space on the SLS, enabling it to rendezvous and dock with the SEP spacecraft with the asteroid attached. Two four hour EVAs are envisioned to explore, select, and obtain samples. Samples will be returned to Earth with the crew in Orion. Current status of understanding science interests and opportunities on both the robotic and crewed missions will be discussed in this presentation.