- Parabolic Arc
- June 7, 2023
NASA Seeks Proposals on Asteroid Redirect Mission Concepts Development
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In support of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission – a key part of the agency’s stepping stone path to send humans to Mars – agency officials are seeking proposals for studies on advanced technology development.
Through a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA), released Friday, NASA hopes to solicit proposals for concept studies in areas including asteroid capture systems, rendezvous sensors, adapting commercial spacecraft for the Asteroid Redirect Mission and feasibility studies of potential future partnership opportunities for secondary payloads and the crewed mission.
“As NASA continues to make great progress refining our mission concepts, we’re reaching out to seek new and innovative ideas as we extend the frontier of space exploration,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “To reach Mars, we’ll rely on new technologies and advanced capabilities proven through the Asteroid Initiative. We’re looking forward to exciting ideas from outside NASA as well to help realize that vision.”
Following evaluations of the proposals, NASA plans to select no more than 25 proposals and make total awards of as much as $6 million. Contracts would begin and end this year. More information can be found in the BAA, available at:
The announcement precedes a Wednesday, March 26, Asteroid Initiative Opportunities Forum at NASA Headquarters. The forum will provide status updates from ongoing Asteroid Redirect Mission concept and extensibility refinement and expand on the BAA, which is a follow-on step from the 2013 Request for Information in mission planning activities. The event also will highlight opportunities for public engagement in the mission and activities associated with the agency’s Asteroid Grand Challenge. The forum will be carried on NASA Television and streamed online for virtual participants. For the agenda and to register as a virtual participant, go to:
NASA’s Asteroid Initiative includes the Asteroid Grand Challenge and the Asteroid Redirect Mission. The grand challenge will develop new partnerships and collaborations to accelerate the agency’s existing planetary defense work, and the mission will collect and redirect an asteroid where astronauts can explore and sample it.
The Asteroid Redirect Mission has three major elements: target identification; a robotic mission to capture and redirect the selected asteroid into a stable orbit beyond the moon; and a crewed segment in which astronauts in NASA’s Orion spacecraft launched on the Space Launch System rocket will rendezvous with the captured asteroid, conduct spacewalks to collect samples from it, and return them to the Earth for analysis. New capabilities and systems tested through the Asteroid Initiative will advance NASA’s ultimate goal of sending humans to Mars.
For more information about NASA’s Asteroid Initiative, visit:
44 responses to “NASA Seeks Proposals on Asteroid Redirect Mission Concepts Development”
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.
I’d suggest that NASA launches an asteroid fragment which has already landed on Earth, to Lunar orbit. That’d be much faster and cheaper than redirecting another one of them out there. I don’t see any purpose with it for science, planetary defence, in situ resource utilization or technological demonstration. But at least it would get the stated mission target over and done with, so that NASA could instead focus on useful or at least interesting things.
Redirecting a tiny meteoroid. Wasn’t the vision to land men on Mars, the Moon, on Ceres? Now it’s about putting some pebble in Lunar orbit. NASA is organizing the smartest people into stupidity.
meteorites on Earth have been exposed to the Earth environment. they aren’t pristine.
the “vision” was a George W. Bush program. the asteroid mission is an Obama program. the problem isn’t with NASA, it’s the political leadership.
Asteroid science requires study of many asteroids, i.e. multiple robotic missions. Picking one asteroid (not because it’s interesting, but because it’s easy) may not be very representative. Besides, robots seem more efficient than humans in EVA zero gravity. Humans should be sent to moons and planets where they can stand up. I think the mission has been compomised to something which isn’t good for anything. I doubt it will happen.
Oh, well you are right, there’s no way this will be representative of all groups and classifications of asteroids. that would require probably several dozen of similar missions like this. That is a very good point.
however, the other point… at this time humans are far more efficient than robots at just about everything other than repetitive tasks or those that require high precision.
but you do finish strong in concluding that this mission is a compromise that probably won’t get off the ground.
Watching astronauts trying to change parts on the ISS, parts designed to be changed by astronauts, doesn’t convince me about their productivity. But on the Moon or on Mars I’m sure gravity make them much more efficient than for example the very slow MSL Cusiority rover. Therefor it is in my opinion such a fundamental failure for NASA not to have a manned space program to those objects instead of to a captured asteroid. Instead of visiting an asteroid in lunar orbit, damn it, land on the Moon! At a polar crater with potential water and eternal sunshine. They will be just around the corner anyway. Build a lunar lander and do it, with SLS and orion the other big pieces are soon in place for doing some useful discoveries.
The surface of the Moon is covered by asteroids!
Robots are slow, have to be controlled by humans, can only interface with parts they are designed to interface with, and have to be custom built and designed for their mission. you can’t say any of the same things for people. we are capable of thinking on the fly, can problem-solve and troubleshoot in real time, have multi-purpose and dextrous hands, and can be mass produced quite cheaply 😛
I don’t think gravity has anything to do with it. the Mars rovers, while they have done fantastic science, i have heard that human explorers could have found the things they did within a few days, compared to the many years they’ve been there.
Gravity certainly has something to do with it. EVA astronauts around the ISS, or an asteroid, are completely focused on staying chained. They are no less remote controlled than a robot would be, constant discussion with ground control. Humans are lost in 0 g space and can’t work 24/7 nonstop and don’t stand risk taking or dramatic variations in solar radiation.
And distance = time lag is also important. On Mars tens of minutes away, human independence on site makes sense. But in LEO or on our one second away Moon, robots are obviously prefered.
Human field geologists are needed on the Moon for primary discovery, but not for prolonged industrial mining work processes. That’s why I think we need humans on Mars more urgently than on the Moon.
i think both robots and humans face the same challenges, whether in gravity or not. however, people have the advantages i mentioned, the best one being real-time problem solving and creativity.
how are humans lost in 0 g? i don’t follow that. astronauts have shown themselves to be quite adept at performing tasks in 0 g.
but your conclusions, again, are very strong. yes, robots that can be remote-controlled from Earth are fine for LEO or Lunar operations. i would agree that people on Mars would be very effecitve compared to robotic explorers.
The easiest way to get humans to Mars is to use water from the lunar poles to fuel and mass shield reusable interplanetary vehicles launched from one of the Earth-Moon Lagrange points.
I don’t think we can really talk seriously about mining the moon for water, and certainly not consider it “the easiest way” of doing anything until we get a lander(s) down there on the lunar surface to
1) characterize directly what form the hydrogen that has been remotely detected there takes and
2) conduct (an) extraction and processing test(s), and probably
3) conduct a small scale extraction, processing, storage and launch pilot project.
At that point we’d know what we have there in terms of resources and our ability to extract, process, store and utilize them and we could at least have a handle on what would be involved cost, time and technology-wise for a full scale operation, or if such an endeavor was practicable or even possible.
I didn’t mean to be too negative in my post above — I think mining the moon for water and enabling other missions would potentially be great.
But at least the first step has to be done — we really have to get a lander down there and see exactly what the situation is before we can do much more than speculate.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe there is any official program in the works yet to do even that first step. I know start up commercial interests are working towards taking a look, but I don’t think anyone is particularly close to getting (designing, financing, testing, building and launching) a suitably equipped, surviveable lander down into a permanently shadowed crater at one of the lunar poles.
Hopefully a team or two makes a real push at the Google Lunar X prize in the next few years and the ball can get rolling from there.
Either that, or, maybe in the face of Chinese competition, it becomes more of a national priority.
Don’t bet on the last. Even with Russia threatening Europe energy, china’s massive economic and military build-up and AGW, congress will do nothing about western energy.
A simple design with thoriym nuke plants and we could burn up 95% of ‘nuke waste’.
Likewise for under a billion we could convert coal to methane for under $7/mmbtu and cut nearly all of the pollution. But they do nothing.
And when faced with possibility of Russia cutting space access, the house pushes large amounts of funding for SLS, rather than allowing private space.
The Russians own part of the ISS. Are we going to fight them for it???
America needs to move on by using the SLS to deploy the next generation of American space stations such as the Skylab II concept and the Bigelow Olympus space station concept.
Putin does not really care about such issues.
And no, we do NOT need the SLS.
FH and Bigelow can do the job truly cheaper, sooner, and safer.
And for the price of finishing out the SLS, we can have at least 2 more space stations, and possibly a lunar base BEFORE the SLS is ready.
The Falcon Heavy won’t have the fairing size or the lifting ability to launch a 65 to 70 tonne Olympus space station. If should probably stick to deploying tiny space stations like the BA-330.
Yes, the Block 2 SLS can put up the 2100, but, that is a mistake. For starters, that will not be ready until around 2030.
Instead, it makes sense to put something like a multiple BA-1400, which BA could design and build.
However, it is better to simply put multiple BA-330’s up there than a single unit. THe reason is that until we have seen how BA will do, it makes sense to have multiple sections so that if an issue develops, they can move around.
In addition, when it comes to putting these on the moon/mars, it will not be 2100, but BA-330s that will be landed.
In addition, one good idea of these is as transports between stations. Attach a tug and then we can move amongst space stations in LEO or even to the moon.
You need a habitat that’s large enough to house a hypergravity machine to see if such devices can help to mitigate the deleterious effects of microgravity on the human body. And that’s probably going to require a habitat at least six meters in diameter.
yeah, it is not as though you can tether 2 BA-330’s or multiple BA-1400’s together and spin them around a center like a bike wheel.
I think one needs a large scale space industry for lunar mining to be profitable. Startup costs would probably be too high for a single manned Mars mission every two year. The Moon would risk to become a “toll booth” on the way to Mars, as Bob Zubrin said, who wants to go to Mars directly.
Mining lunar water may simply require switching on a mobile microwave oven.
Utilizing the SLS to Build a Cis-Lunar Highway
Plus it requires substantially less delta-v to ship fuel or water (which can be easily converted into fuel) to the Lagrange points than from the Earth’s surface to LEO.
You might like this guy: http://www.cislunarone.com/ Note the document link in red on the top of the page. He was on thespaceshow podcast a few days ago http://www.thespaceshow.com…
He doesn’t argue specifically much for fueling trips to Mars with Lunar fuel, but he sees several other uses in geocentric cis-lunar space. One advantage is that the inclination of LEO or GPS satellites is not a problem for a servicing rendevouz mission which starts out all the way from the Moon. And instead of transfering fuel, the client satellite is towed by the servicing vehicle.
and yet, every ACTUAL study says that you are wrong. In fact, SpaceX says that you are wrong. That is why they are going on straight to mars.
The delta-v requirement to get from the Earth-Moon Lagrange points to high Mars orbit is less than 2 km/s. The delta-v just to achieve the Mars Transfer Orbit from LEO is ~4.3 km/s.
The delta-v to send fuel to LEO is over 9 km/s. The delta-v to send fuel from the Moon to an Earth-Moon Lagrange point interplanetary launch position is less than 2.6 km/s.
Its simple physics!
This is not about physics. This is about economics. And the fact is, that it is MUCH CHEAPER AND FASTER to currently launch from earth to get to mars, then from the moon.
And as tonya and I spoke of earlier, the way to do this is to have BOTH the moon and mars, and ideally, the asteroid, happen at the same time.
She suggests a COTS-lunar, while I suggest a COTS-SHLV. Both will accomplish the issue.
With reusable launch systems the cost and difficulty of getting into space and then to Mars is far less than prospecting, mining and delivering water (if it really is there) from the Moon – and no, the lunar orbit surveys are not conclusive about the existence of H2O.
They are pretty conclusive, IMO. In fact, there also appears to substantial amounts of carbon from the lunar impact analysis.
But even if there was no hydrogen on the Moon, the lunar regolith is composed of 40% oxygen, which would represent approximately 86% of rocket fuel content.
Finding a few disparate water molecules scattered around or under the lunar surface is going to be difficult time consuming and energy intensive. More likely it’ll be under high crater cliffs which is going to be much more dangerous and difficult to reach. Then you’ve got to collect and process it. All this is going to take decades and decades to put in place on anything like a useful scale. Regolith may be oxygen rich, but the excavation and industrial processes to required it would, again, take many years and energy on the scale of a nuclear generator to extract.
Not the industrialisation of the Moon nor the colonisation of Mars are going to happen without reusable launch systems. Once you have a reusable launch capability, the cost of lifting fuel, water and hardware to LEO becomes almost insignificant; especially compared to the cost of installing industrialised mining on the Moon. Perhaps some time in the future Moon fuel and/or water may be on a scale and cost competitive with Earth. By which time nuclear-electric propulsion will negate the need for lunar fuel. The maturity of reusable launch will still be competitive/convenient for water as perhaps will Martian water. Your delta-v argument secondary to the cost. It is not about physics, it is about economics.
If you want to go there once, go direct. If you want a sustained presence then build the infrastructure and do it properly. It will also provide a lot of experience in setting up a remote base of operation.
Not to argue about the economics of lunar mining, but if your plan for Mars involves anything less than “many, many times more than once”, you better spare yourself the effort and don’t do it at all.
If we want to create a continued and expanding presence in our solar system, anything else than starting to build the infrastructure yesterday is a long term loss of money.
To my mind, any long term view of solar system transport will surely involve advanced electric propulsion powered by nuclear. Mining lunar water that can be used for fuel in 50-100 years time is about as forward looking as designing a steam powered car.
I don’t believe a human space program should be used for stunts. NASA should be focused on establishing a permanent human presence on both the Moon and Mars.
Congress is not too hot on the idea of an asteroid retrieval right?
No, congress is fine with it. House republicans (actually, just the neo-cons and tea*) hate it.
They want to be on the moon, but they want the SLS to do it, not private space.
oh, well if we’re talking future robotic tech, you’re probably right. your time estimate seems reasonable as well. we’d better get people living on Mars before the robots replace us.
Actually, for us to support a large number of launches, it is best to do the moon and asteroid together, followed by mars.
That may sound odd, but going to these places is not about capability, but economics. And that is all about numbers of launches.
Oh, I am not suggesting mining the moon/asteroids to get to mars. That is just crazy that anybody suggests it. Even crazier is that house republicans continue to push that fiction.
BUT, if Bigelow puts a private base on the moon, it will require a number of launches to build and support it. That will lower the launch costs for everything including mars.
It depends on how you extract the water. A simple mobile microwave tanker should be very easy to deploy.
But trying to launch a Mars space ship with the appropriate amount of mass shielding to protect astronauts from a major solar event would require an enormous amount of fuel when launching from LEO.
Launching interplanetary vehicles between the Earth-Moon Lagrange points and high Mars orbit would require substantially less delta-v
Oh, I suspect that we are on the same page.
I prefer a COTS to develop a SHLV, but, it could work for lunar as well. SImply have NASA guarantee that they will buy X amount of launches and living time on the moon.
Of course, we need to have CONgress pre-allocate that money since they can not be trusted.
The Moon is an important destination in its own right– especially if you want private companies to start making some serious money through space tourism. And we’re going to need lunar water in order to make that happen.
But lunar water also makes it easier to get to Mars because of the substantially lower delta-v requirements from the Lagrange points to high Mars orbit.
A LEO departure vehicles requires you to launch huge amounts of fuel, plus possibly more than 100 tonnes of mass shielding to protect astronauts from major solar events. And if artificial gravity is required then the mass could increase substantially more. So, at least 11 SLS launches would be required for the fuel and mass shielding alone for a LEO launched Mars vehicle.
Plus a LEO launched Mars vehicle that had to return to Earth orbit would probably be an expendable one while a Lagrange point launch vehicle could be a reusable one, probably capable of at least ten round trips to high Mars orbit before the CECE engines would have to be replaced or the entire vehicle was replaced.
Appropriate mass shielding and artificial gravity would be much simpler, IMO.
But you can make a fast trip to Mars using chemical rockets by simply using a lot more fuel.
But slow trips to Mars (6 to 9 months) will probably be the first way humans get to Mars, IMO, before the age of– super abundant– extraterrestrial fuel from the Moon, imported NEO meteoroids, moons of Mars, etc. arrives.
That’s because there’s no logical reason why melting ice on the Moon should be more complex than it has to be. The Spudis and Lavoie method for lunar extraction may use a much simpler method: dig up the icy regolith and place it the sunlight.
But I believe the microwave method of using cold traps to mine ice will be a lot more efficient extracting method and could probably be used on practically any airless world in the solar system.
My plan is to dramatically reduce the delta v requirements by launching reusable interplanetary vehicles from the Earth-Moon Lagrange points to high Mars orbit using lunar polar ice resources rather than hyper expensive terrestrial water and fuel resources.
Twin habitats rotating at opposite ends of each other are used to produce artificial gravity in order to eliminate the deleterious effects of microgravity. It also increases crew capacity while also enhancing astronaut safety by providing a back up habitat in case there is a serious malfunction in the other habitat.
And it would also provide artificial gravity for the astronauts while they are in orbit around Mars for several months exploring the martian moons or deploying a manned shuttles to the Martian surface.
Its only hard if you want it to be hard:-)
Cooking Up Water From the Moon? NASA Studies Water Extraction With Microwaves
musk has been lobbying CONgress to focus on restarting NERVA. Sadly, they are not interested.