Author Topic: Asteroid Redirect Mission to lay the technology foundations for deep space  (Read 34128 times)

Online Chris Bergin

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2015/04/asteroid-redirect-mission-path-mars/

Didn't want to get too wordy, so there's a State Of Play, some key points (such as SEP and the suits) and I've attached the NASA presentation for those who want to dig deeper into what this article was based on.

Offline jongoff

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http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2015/04/asteroid-redirect-mission-path-mars/

Didn't want to get too wordy, so there's a State Of Play, some key points (such as SEP and the suits) and I've attached the NASA presentation for those who want to dig deeper into what this article was based on.

Thanks for the shout-out to Altius! That said, AIUI, the NASA baseline for Option-B is using robot arms derived from the FREND Arms that MDA has developed for DARPA and for Goddard's satellite servicing group (with JPL microspine grippers), though we'd love to find a way to stay involved.

~Jon

Online Chris Bergin

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2015/04/asteroid-redirect-mission-path-mars/

Didn't want to get too wordy, so there's a State Of Play, some key points (such as SEP and the suits) and I've attached the NASA presentation for those who want to dig deeper into what this article was based on.

Thanks for the shout-out to Altius! That said, AIUI, the NASA baseline for Option-B is using robot arms derived from the FREND Arms that MDA has developed for DARPA and for Goddard's satellite servicing group (with JPL microspine grippers), though we'd love to find a way to stay involved.

~Jon

It was always going to be a reference to Altius, not just because "it's you" (we've got MDA friends here too) but because Altius' twitter feed is one of the few I follow, as it's very proactive at showing the development work. In a swamp of nonsense on Twitter, that's a great one to follow.

Offline Kaputnik

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Is there more info on the SEP modules available? Mass, propellant fraction, thrust, isp?
Waiting for joy and raptor

Offline redliox

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Is there more info on the SEP modules available? Mass, propellant fraction, thrust, isp?

Agreed, that would be vital information.  I'd like to see calculations for using the ARV to do a Deimos/Phobos visit instead.  If SEP can't do orbit insertion/departure at Mars it becomes redundant at best and useless at worst, at least for anything beyond shuttling cargo to the edge of Earth's gravity well.  I'm far from convinced SEP is needed for a Mars mission at all.
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Offline clongton

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Nice article Chris. It presented more information than I had before and helped me understand some of the nuances. There are pros and cons for executing the ARM and supporters and detractors of the mission. I find myself somewhere in the murky middle. I support the goals of the mission but not the target. Any SLS mission to anywhere is going to be super expensive so I would prefer the missions to be chosen that most directly support the stated end goal, which is a manned mission to Mars. To that end I would prefer this long term mission (18 months) to focus more toward Mars and be redesigned around a visit to Phobos, which is believed to be a captured asteroid. All the same systems and capabilities would be tested, but would bear directly on the end goal, unlike the ARM, and would also provide the opportunity to conduct some Mars-specific science once the vehicle arrives. That said the goals are worthy and the lessons learned will be invaluable. You treated the mission, and its budgetary woes with the respect they both deserve. Thank you for that. I have always been the kind of person that will argue passionately for my preferred solution/mission/objective, even if it is not the stated thinking of the main players. But I also believe that once the final decision is made then my battle is either won or lost and it's time to shut up and get behind the mission. So I will continue to argue for the ARM to be redirected toward Phobos until the final decision is made. Then I will be solidly behind the decision - whatever it is.

Nice article Chris, and well written. Thank you.
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Online Robotbeat

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Is there more info on the SEP modules available? Mass, propellant fraction, thrust, isp?

Agreed, that would be vital information.  I'd like to see calculations for using the ARV to do a Deimos/Phobos visit instead.  If SEP can't do orbit insertion/departure at Mars it becomes redundant at best and useless at worst, at least for anything beyond shuttling cargo to the edge of Earth's gravity well.  I'm far from convinced SEP is needed for a Mars mission at all.
SEP can do orbital insertion/departure at Mars, of course. And if you bothered to read the ARM proposal, you would know the information on mass fraction, Isp, and power (thrust is not the most useful metric when calculating missions for SEP, though of course it's trivial to derive the thrust given Isp, power, and efficiency).

And we could do a Mars mission with solid rocket motors if we really wanted to. SEP isn't "needed" but it is a way to improve the affordability of such a mission.
« Last Edit: 04/22/2015 01:53 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline jongoff

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http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2015/04/asteroid-redirect-mission-path-mars/

Didn't want to get too wordy, so there's a State Of Play, some key points (such as SEP and the suits) and I've attached the NASA presentation for those who want to dig deeper into what this article was based on.

Thanks for the shout-out to Altius! That said, AIUI, the NASA baseline for Option-B is using robot arms derived from the FREND Arms that MDA has developed for DARPA and for Goddard's satellite servicing group (with JPL microspine grippers), though we'd love to find a way to stay involved.

~Jon

It was always going to be a reference to Altius, not just because "it's you" (we've got MDA friends here too) but because Altius' twitter feed is one of the few I follow, as it's very proactive at showing the development work. In a swamp of nonsense on Twitter, that's a great one to follow.

Thank you! Hopefully we'll have some cool videos up this week of our Prospector demo and an animation our marketing VP put together showing the boulder extraction CONOPS. I'll make sure to link to them on Twitter.

~Jon

Offline redliox

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I'd like to see calculations for using the ARV to do a Deimos/Phobos visit instead.  If SEP can't do orbit insertion/departure at Mars it becomes redundant at best and useless at worst, at least for anything beyond shuttling cargo to the edge of Earth's gravity well.  I'm far from convinced SEP is needed for a Mars mission at all.
SEP can do orbital insertion/departure at Mars, of course. And if you bothered to read the ARM proposal, you would know the information on mass fraction, Isp, and power (thrust is not the most useful metric when calculating missions for SEP, though of course it's trivial to derive the thrust given Isp, power, and efficiency).

The funny thing advocates of electric propulsion leave out is how weak the thrust is while going on about ISP.  Where is the data that says how long the setup requires to do the ~1.5 km/sec just to brake into High Mars Orbit?    I wouldn't advocate a setup that needs a solid 2 months or more to do a burn like that.  Dawn had to fire it's engines for years for a gentle rendezvous with its targets; a crew vulnerable to radiation can't afford that much time.

I agree SEP would be perfect for moving cargo, but a crew can fly to Mars more efficiently with methalox.  Disprove me by showing how long SEP needs to do MOI.
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Online Robotbeat

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You thrust for most of the mission duration. There's nothing wrong with that, and it is the optimal solution if you're using SEP or NEP. The extremely high Isp allows for it. The fact you think that's a problem and not a solution shows you do not understand how to do mission design for SEP.

Yeah, you could shorten the duration of the burn by reducing the Isp, but it'd mean using lots more propellant.

SEP can take longer or shorter than a typical chemical trajectory, it depends on how much payload you want to bring.
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Offline arachnitect

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I'd like to see calculations for using the ARV to do a Deimos/Phobos visit instead.  If SEP can't do orbit insertion/departure at Mars it becomes redundant at best and useless at worst, at least for anything beyond shuttling cargo to the edge of Earth's gravity well.  I'm far from convinced SEP is needed for a Mars mission at all.
SEP can do orbital insertion/departure at Mars, of course. And if you bothered to read the ARM proposal, you would know the information on mass fraction, Isp, and power (thrust is not the most useful metric when calculating missions for SEP, though of course it's trivial to derive the thrust given Isp, power, and efficiency).

The funny thing advocates of electric propulsion leave out is how weak the thrust is while going on about ISP.  Where is the data that says how long the setup requires to do the ~1.5 km/sec just to brake into High Mars Orbit?    I wouldn't advocate a setup that needs a solid 2 months or more to do a burn like that.  Dawn had to fire it's engines for years for a gentle rendezvous with its targets; a crew vulnerable to radiation can't afford that much time.

I agree SEP would be perfect for moving cargo, but a crew can fly to Mars more efficiently with methalox.  Disprove me by showing how long SEP needs to do MOI.

Look at the Boeing "six not so easy pieces" architecture.

260 days to mars, 200 days return (450 days on surface).

For comparison DRM 5.0 was 174 days out, 201 days back (539 days on surface). So the Boeing SEP proposal has about 25% longer transit (overall mission actually shorter).


Offline TaurusLittrow

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I think one of the key points of the article is that even with a crewed EM-1-like mission and cargo mission the launch rate of SLS would be about once every 2 years which is half the rate preferred by NASA to maintain workforce proficiency (not to mention political support). 

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I'd like to see calculations for using the ARV to do a Deimos/Phobos visit instead.  If SEP can't do orbit insertion/departure at Mars it becomes redundant at best and useless at worst, at least for anything beyond shuttling cargo to the edge of Earth's gravity well.  I'm far from convinced SEP is needed for a Mars mission at all.
SEP can do orbital insertion/departure at Mars, of course. And if you bothered to read the ARM proposal, you would know the information on mass fraction, Isp, and power (thrust is not the most useful metric when calculating missions for SEP, though of course it's trivial to derive the thrust given Isp, power, and efficiency).

The funny thing advocates of electric propulsion leave out is how weak the thrust is while going on about ISP.  Where is the data that says how long the setup requires to do the ~1.5 km/sec just to brake into High Mars Orbit?    I wouldn't advocate a setup that needs a solid 2 months or more to do a burn like that.  Dawn had to fire it's engines for years for a gentle rendezvous with its targets; a crew vulnerable to radiation can't afford that much time.

I agree SEP would be perfect for moving cargo, but a crew can fly to Mars more efficiently with methalox.  Disprove me by showing how long SEP needs to do MOI.

Look at the Boeing "six not so easy pieces" architecture.

260 days to mars, 200 days return (450 days on surface).

For comparison DRM 5.0 was 174 days out, 201 days back (539 days on surface). So the Boeing SEP proposal has about 25% longer transit (overall mission actually shorter).
...and the IMLEO is much less.

There is always a trade between time and IMLEO. If you don't want to reduce IMLEO (or only want to reduce it somewhat), you can get faster transits than chemical alone.

Just because someone somewhere chooses to optimize for IMLEO doesn't mean you can't optimize for transit time.

Don't know why I need to mention it again. I said this before clearly, is there some part of what I said that was unclear?
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Offline KelvinZero

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Another thing I would like to see with a reusable SEP tug is just throwing larger robotic landers at mars. None of this slow spiralling in stuff. It would drop the payload long before reaching Mars and return home in time for the next window.

We should be lining up about ten different missions for this thing, not fighting over one.


Offline clongton

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WOW! Christmas came early this year - real early. Look what the NASA Advisory Council just suggested NASA do.
http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2015/04/advisors-to-nasa-dump-the-asteroid-mission-and-go-to-phobos-instead/

Upthread I think I pretty much said the exact same thing.

;D  (Dances around the Christmas tree)  ;D
« Last Edit: 04/24/2015 07:28 PM by clongton »
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Offline IRobot

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Am I the only one that prefers an ARM mission to a Mars flyby?

A successful ARM mission would boost investors confident in companies like Planetary Resources. Mars flyby is just a stunt.

At this point I prefer to attract the interest of private investors than to attract public attention. The public will just read the news of a Mars flyby on their cellphones on the way to work and forget about it quite fast.

Offline arachnitect

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Well the asteroid people should see the stakes clearly now: do they "not like" ARM enough to be satisfied getting cut out of it entirely?

If ARM does go to Mars, hopefully they'll be bringing something interesting back. If there's no sample return component, they should at least have the PR sense to stick an empty pressure vessel on the front as a "hab. module simulator." Extra points for Real Big American Flag painted on it.

In all seriousness, why not both ARM and unmanned Martian shakedown? SLS could use the business.

Offline jtrame

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ARM is a stunt.  Mars orbit is getting down to business.

Offline RonM

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The article states that the Phobos mission would still collect a boulder. It just has to be smaller than one collected from an asteroid.

Quote
Still, is 5 tons of a Martian moon worth more than 70 tons of an asteroid? If you want to send people to Mars, arguably it is.

I agree.

Offline arachnitect

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The article states that the Phobos mission would still collect a boulder. It just has to be smaller than one collected from an asteroid.

Quote
Still, is 5 tons of a Martian moon worth more than 70 tons of an asteroid? If you want to send people to Mars, arguably it is.

I agree.

NAC says they should go to Mars whether they can get a sample or not.

Offline RonM

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The article states that the Phobos mission would still collect a boulder. It just has to be smaller than one collected from an asteroid.

Quote
Still, is 5 tons of a Martian moon worth more than 70 tons of an asteroid? If you want to send people to Mars, arguably it is.

I agree.

NAC says they should go to Mars whether they can get a sample or not.

Even if they don't do the ARM grab a boulder routine, there should be some sort of sample return. If not, why bother to fly to Phobos?

We already know SEP works from previous long duration missions. If all they want to do is test the engines on a large SEP tug then just fly it to the Moon and back.

If they are going to have a SEP tug go to Phobos, it should bring something back. Otherwise, it is just as uninspiring and pointless as sending a manned Orion to DRO so the crew can twiddle their thumbs.

Offline Steam Chaser

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The article states that the Phobos mission would still collect a boulder. It just has to be smaller than one collected from an asteroid.

Quote
Still, is 5 tons of a Martian moon worth more than 70 tons of an asteroid? If you want to send people to Mars, arguably it is.

I agree.

NAC says they should go to Mars whether they can get a sample or not.

Even if they don't do the ARM grab a boulder routine, there should be some sort of sample return. If not, why bother to fly to Phobos?

We already know SEP works from previous long duration missions. If all they want to do is test the engines on a large SEP tug then just fly it to the Moon and back.

If they are going to have a SEP tug go to Phobos, it should bring something back. Otherwise, it is just as uninspiring and pointless as sending a manned Orion to DRO so the crew can twiddle their thumbs.

It seems logical for there to be some sort sample return, given that NAC is saying test SEP to Mars and then to lunar orbit.  Making the full round trip really asks for sample return, even if it's just sort of tacked on to what NAC says should be the main technology demonstration mission.

Still, I don't see it as uninspiring and pointless even if there is no sample return.  I didn't think technology demonstration missions like Deep Space 1 or EO-1 were uninspiring and pointless.  I don't think the robotic planetary science missions to Mars have been uninspiring and pointless.  If some remote sensing instruments, cubesats, secondary technology demonstrations, or things like that were added, it could be a nice mission.

I also don't think it's worth fighting over whether the mission goes to an asteroid, Phobos, Deimos, or whatever.  If switching the mission to Mars moons or generally Mars orbit gets the NAC behind it, and maybe lets some in Congress support it by letting them score a few points, that's fine.  Doing the Mars mission would make it much easier to do a mission like ARM later, anyway, so ARM advocates should support this variation, too (since they are currently likely to get nothing).  Mars advocates would benefit.  Planetary science might benefit more from a Mars mission than an asteroid mission since the mission could study both Mars moons and Mars itself.  Advocates of Obama's original push for technology demonstration and robotic precursor missions would benefit since that's what this mission would be, and SLS/Orion advocates would benefit if SLS launches the robotic missions and there is a sample return component for SLS/Orion to study or retrieve.  Commercial/ISRU interests could still benefit if Mars moon samples are returned or the moons are studied.

Offline KelvinZero

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WOW! Christmas came early this year - real early. Look what the NASA Advisory Council just suggested NASA do.
http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2015/04/advisors-to-nasa-dump-the-asteroid-mission-and-go-to-phobos-instead/

Upthread I think I pretty much said the exact same thing.

;D  (Dances around the Christmas tree)  ;D

Phobos or Deimos are probably more relevant. I assume returning anything substantial from there would be a lot more expensive in delta-v, time and money though.

I was very interested in the manned portion and extending it to a permanent high lunar orbit station investigating asteroid ISRU and humans interacting with a Phobos/Deimos-like environment, and also testing all the BEO tech that ISS is not suitable for due to all the sensitive microgravity work.

It is also possible that Phobos/Deimos will turn out very dry whereas we may be able to select NEOs with high (eg 20%) volatile content. This could make these objects more relevant to mars than the moons of mars. It shouldnt be one or the other, we should examine all these (compared to mars HSF) easy targets.
« Last Edit: 04/24/2015 11:27 PM by KelvinZero »

Online Robotbeat

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WOW! Christmas came early this year - real early. Look what the NASA Advisory Council just suggested NASA do.
http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2015/04/advisors-to-nasa-dump-the-asteroid-mission-and-go-to-phobos-instead/

Upthread I think I pretty much said the exact same thing.

;D  (Dances around the Christmas tree)  ;D
A little late to the game.

That would be a bad idea. It'd mean you couldn't demonstrate the Enhanced Gravity Tractor and the boulder you'd get would be much, much smaller.

The enhanced gravity tractor demo should /not/ be underestimated. By using this method, humanity will demonstrate the precise maneuvering of an asteroid larger than Apophis. That alone would be worth the $1.25 billion price tag. And a larger boulder would allow real scale demonstration of ISRU, allowing us to fill up 90% of our propellant in orbit without having to launch it from Earth. That would also be a game changer and well worth the mission cost (although this part would likely be demonstrated by commercial companies).

Phobos (or Deimos) would be a good second mission, though. But following NAC's poor advice would dramatically reduce the value of ARM.
« Last Edit: 04/25/2015 12:34 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline Coastal Ron

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WOW! Christmas came early this year - real early. Look what the NASA Advisory Council just suggested NASA do.
http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2015/04/advisors-to-nasa-dump-the-asteroid-mission-and-go-to-phobos-instead/

Upthread I think I pretty much said the exact same thing.

I thought this was interesting in that article:

"Phobos is a small moon of Mars, about 7 miles across.

Science journalist Miles O’Brien, who characterized an asteroid as a “contrived destination, seized upon this idea. “People would get excited about that. I could sell that to editors.”
"

No doubt anything NASA does can get attention to some degree, but Mars is certainly a place that is recognizable for the largest segment of the public that cares to notice anything about space.  Just from an ROI standpoint on the U.S. Taxpayers funding of NASA, an SEP mission to Mars may make better sense than the ARM, especially if we can gather samples at Phobos.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

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Ron: You'll have to tell the thousand individuals in Russia injured by the asteroid impact there that asteroids are merely contrived.

It's NASA's job to address the asteroid threat. Phobos does not address that, the asteroid picked for Option B certainly does. Because of that, bang for the buck is much higher for actually redirecting the asteroid.
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Offline clongton

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SLS will need to launch something that will actually garner some genuine public interest. Public interest translates into Congressional support. Without that support SLS will soon enough cease to exist except as a data point in NASA's growing list of cancelled programs. A mission to Phobos at Mars will get that interest. With no disrespect to the Russian people intended, they don't have representatives in our Congress so their opinion of asteroids doesn't count in this case. We have to be pragmatic here.

To all you SLS supporters out there - get NASA to do something with SLS that will gain real public interest, like Mars, if you want to keep your rocket. ARM will not get that kind of interest. The flight rate of SLS is dismal as it is. Don't waste one on something that the public won't care about except for how much it cost them. That's a sure fire way to dribble away what little support there actually is.
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Offline KelvinZero

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SLS will need to launch something that will actually garner some genuine public interest.
Ahhh.. You mean that changing the destination to Phobos would mean launching the SEP tug on SLS? I felt that was too cynical :)

Offline daveklingler

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The enhanced gravity tractor demo should /not/ be underestimated. By using this method, humanity will demonstrate the precise maneuvering of an asteroid larger than Apophis. That alone would be worth the $1.25 billion price tag. And a larger boulder would allow real scale demonstration of ISRU, allowing us to fill up 90% of our propellant in orbit without having to launch it from Earth. That would also be a game changer and well worth the mission cost (although this part would likely be demonstrated by commercial companies).

Phobos (or Deimos) would be a good second mission, though. But following NAC's poor advice would dramatically reduce the value of ARM.

I like everything you've written here.  ARM supporters have been shouting this into the wind.  It's the most practical mission I can imagine for a rocket that's eminently unpractical. 

It seems to me that NASA should never have attempted to cast ARM as a stepping stone to Mars, except perhaps as a secondary consideration.  ARM should be sold as NEO mitigation first, asteroid mining second, and stepping stone third.  If the general public saw ARM as asteroid mitigation, they'd be cheering for it, and Congress can't very well call Bolden on the carpet for trying to save humanity.

Perhaps the manned aspect was sufficiently weak that they didn't feel it could be sold that way to Congress.  But Congress doesn't want to cancel SLS; it's their rocket, after all.  They just want something for SLS to do that the public will find inspiring.

Offline RonM

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The enhanced gravity tractor demo should /not/ be underestimated. By using this method, humanity will demonstrate the precise maneuvering of an asteroid larger than Apophis. That alone would be worth the $1.25 billion price tag. And a larger boulder would allow real scale demonstration of ISRU, allowing us to fill up 90% of our propellant in orbit without having to launch it from Earth. That would also be a game changer and well worth the mission cost (although this part would likely be demonstrated by commercial companies).

Phobos (or Deimos) would be a good second mission, though. But following NAC's poor advice would dramatically reduce the value of ARM.

I like everything you've written here.  ARM supporters have been shouting this into the wind.  It's the most practical mission I can imagine for a rocket that's eminently unpractical. 

It seems to me that NASA should never have attempted to cast ARM as a stepping stone to Mars, except perhaps as a secondary consideration.  ARM should be sold as NEO mitigation first, asteroid mining second, and stepping stone third.  If the general public saw ARM as asteroid mitigation, they'd be cheering for it, and Congress can't very well call Bolden on the carpet for trying to save humanity.

Perhaps the manned aspect was sufficiently weak that they didn't feel it could be sold that way to Congress.  But Congress doesn't want to cancel SLS; it's their rocket, after all.  They just want something for SLS to do that the public will find inspiring.

NASA is not doing a good job of selling their missions to Congress. ARM should be cast as a planetary defense test and asteroid mining research.

Other missions should be direct stepping stones to manned exploration of Mars by, dare I write it, going to Mars.

With enough build up and data to back it up, Bolden could get Congress to approve two SEP tests, ARM and a Phobos mission. After all, they can be payloads for Congress' SLS. It could be the same SEP tug for both missions. That should keep the costs down and prove it works.

NASA scientists and engineers come up with great ideas. I think the problem is NASA management doesn't know which ideas to back and doesn't know how to sell their ideas to Congress.

Forget for a moment that we're talking the kabuki theater called Government. Bolden is trying to convince a group of people to fund missions. From a sales point of view, it's like a salesman trying to get a company to buy his product.

Look at the expensive AMS experiment. Dr. Ting did a great job of convincing Congress to fund AMS. It is on ISS right now gathering data. You got to know how to sell your project.

Offline Impaler

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Didn't congress actually mandate that the NASA Administration think up a Cis-lunar mission utilizing the SLS? 

Given the fact their is no lunar lander the ARM concept is the ONLY possible thing that NASA could have offered that fits this criteria.  But it seems that congresses ability to irrationally hate anything coming out of the white house has made them forget their own mandate.  Congress still has no one but itself to blame because they NEVER allocate money for anything to go on top of SLS.

I find the Phobos re-direct idea rather silly, it comes off as an attempt to just 'Mars up' an idea to try to portray it as being more 'on the road to Mars' for people who don't understand anything about the actual technical challenges.  SEP vehicles have already been well past Mars, the DISTANCE is trivial and not an improvement over current capabilities.  Moving more MASS is what we need to demonstrate with SEP, that's why I favored the 'bag-and-wrap' Option A for ARM because it was a higher mass goal.

Offline QuantumG

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I find the Phobos re-direct idea rather silly, it comes off as an attempt to just 'Mars up' an idea to try to portray it as being more 'on the road to Mars' for people who don't understand anything about the actual technical challenges.  SEP vehicles have already been well past Mars, the DISTANCE is trivial and not an improvement over current capabilities.

What makes you think they see it as capability demonstration at all? Actually knowing if there is resources on Phobos or Deimos that could be exploited for a landing mission would be on the road to Mars.
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Offline notsorandom

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ARM option B would test out a gravity tractor. As neat as that is what is the chance of devastating impact happening in the next few decades? I am not sure of the wisdom in developing a technology which might not be needed for millennia. Let me posit this though, if the threat of an asteroid impact causes real concern why not use the money to fund something like the B612 Foundation's Sentinel telescope so we could find all the potentially dangerous asteroids? If there is a rock heading at us the most pressing thing is to find it as soon as possible. Funding will materialize for all sorts of deflection strategies in short order.

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The problem with that, though, is we would be relying on untested deflection techniques in that case. Also, part of ARM is to survey more asteroids.

Asteroid impact is low probability but very high severity. A large impact in the Pacific could easily kill millions via tsunami. It's dumb to discount such a severe impact just because it /probably/ won't happen soon.
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I find the Phobos re-direct idea rather silly,
Hehe.. I find that terminology slightly worrying. Imagine towing Phobos into high lunar orbit. "Look what I found, mum!"

However my understanding is that the original NAC proposal did not mention sample return at all, which begs an obvious question...
Stop. The Keck Study upon which this is based mentioned sample return. (EDIT: "sample" occurs 22 times in the Keck study)
« Last Edit: 05/05/2015 12:35 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline jongoff

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ARM option B would test out a gravity tractor. As neat as that is what is the chance of devastating impact happening in the next few decades? I am not sure of the wisdom in developing a technology which might not be needed for millennia. Let me posit this though, if the threat of an asteroid impact causes real concern why not use the money to fund something like the B612 Foundation's Sentinel telescope so we could find all the potentially dangerous asteroids? If there is a rock heading at us the most pressing thing is to find it as soon as possible. Funding will materialize for all sorts of deflection strategies in short order.

The two don't necessarily have to be mutually exclusive. I'd like to see both something like the Sentinel mission funded as well as ARM. You want detection, but you also want to demonstrate the Enhanced Gravity Tractor technique. It has its fair share of subtleties that you'd want to iron out when the time isn't critical.

~Jon

Offline notsorandom

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Using ARM to test a gravity tractor is begging the question of the danger of asteroid impacts, it assumes that in the near future there will be one. According to Dr. Binzel the creator of the Torino Scale an asteroid impact which causes local destruction to an inhabited place happens on average of once every 10,000 years. Larger events happen much more rarely. If there is no threat there is no need to develop countermeasures.

ARM will cost at a minimum $1.25 billion and likely much more than that. For a small fraction of that a very intensive search for dangerous NEOs can be done. If that turns up anything bad then the government will effectively write a blank check to deal with it. NASA leadership has been talking about ARM for a while but only recently asked for money to conduct a search. Now they are saying that they don't even need to search because they have already picked the asteroids they want to target from the known catalog. ARM as it is being proposed now will not do the most simple, inexpensive, and important step of asteroid risk mitigation.

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Using ARM to test a gravity tractor is begging the question of the danger of asteroid impacts, it assumes that in the near future there will be one. ...
No it doesn't. It only presumes there's a risk of an asteroid impact sometime within, say, the next century. By developing the tech sooner, this gives us a much better chance of deflecting an asteroid once it is determined to be a hazard.

You don't ignore the risk just because it's not guaranteed to kill you.
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Offline notsorandom

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Using ARM to test a gravity tractor is begging the question of the danger of asteroid impacts, it assumes that in the near future there will be one. ...
No it doesn't. It only presumes there's a risk of an asteroid impact sometime within, say, the next century. By developing the tech sooner, this gives us a much better chance of deflecting an asteroid once it is determined to be a hazard.

You don't ignore the risk just because it's not guaranteed to kill you.
There will always be a risk until the entire population is known. At some point that risk becomes low enough that the available finite funding is best spent on more pressing things. The the analysis based on what we know now is that over the next 100 years there is a 99% chance that a gravity tractor demo will be useless. Over time a demo will become less and less relevant. New technologies will appear, information on the demo may be lost, or some other event happens which causes enough damage to render the threat moot.

Every new NEO which is discovered retires some of the statistical risk. We can discover and catalog a good enough number of them to retire the risk to negligible levels very quickly and cheaply. Option A which was the original plan made a search like this mandatory. Option B makes such a search totally unnecessary. If ARM really is about planetary protection then option A is the best one to go with. Even if it gets canceled before it flies it will have accomplished a lot just by conducting a search for targets. Having the ability to divert a threat is useless if the threat is unknown.

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Using ARM to test a gravity tractor is begging the question of the danger of asteroid impacts, it assumes that in the near future there will be one. ...
No it doesn't. It only presumes there's a risk of an asteroid impact sometime within, say, the next century. By developing the tech sooner, this gives us a much better chance of deflecting an asteroid once it is determined to be a hazard.

You don't ignore the risk just because it's not guaranteed to kill you.
There will always be a risk until the entire population is known. At some point that risk becomes low enough that the available finite funding is best spent on more pressing things. The the analysis based on what we know now is that over the next 100 years there is a 99% chance that a gravity tractor demo will be useless. ...
That is a false understanding of the threat. In essence, you're saying we should practice Russian Roulette.

Often you can't know for sure whether an asteroid will impact or not before the window for easy redirect options is well passed (i.e. after it has gone through a gravitational keyhole). If there's a 1 in 100 chance an asteroid may impact and create an enormous tsunami that will kill tens of millions, the smart thing to do isn't to say "oh, geeze, well it probably won't hit." The smart thing to do would be to launch an inexpensive mission to deflect it early enough that deflection can be assured with a cheap vehicle.

There's a near-certainty that we'll be forced to play Russian Roulette in the next century. You're arguing that's just fine.
« Last Edit: 05/05/2015 06:32 PM by Robotbeat »
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Additionally, the enhanced-mass technique can also be used as kinetic impact terminal defense against threats for which it's essentially impossible to detect, like comets. But it needs to be in place before, there's no way you'd have enough time if you waited until you could SEE the threat.
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Offline notsorandom

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The current estimates of the probability of a damaging impact are based on the historic impact record of Earth and the Moon as well as the catalog of known objects. This is based on real data and statistical rules. To use the Russian Roulette analogy is it better to see if the gun is unloaded for a small amount of money or to make a Kevlar hat using a significant potion of your budget?

Offline arachnitect

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If planetary defense isn't important enough to warrant a small chunk of the budget, maybe all the space boosters and science communicators should stop talking about it when they're out ginning up support for NASA among us lowly un-scientists.

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The current estimates of the probability of a damaging impact are based on the historic impact record of Earth and the Moon as well as the catalog of known objects. This is based on real data and statistical rules. To use the Russian Roulette analogy is it better to see if the gun is unloaded for a small amount of money or to make a Kevlar hat using a significant potion of your budget?
You don't understand. There are many objects whose impact probability cannot be totally ruled out because they make close passes of the Earth (or other objects) which can drastically alter their trajectory. We can know they will fly by, but it is not feasible to determine with certainty the exact new trajectory until either very near flyby or after it occurs.

Also, the demo is not a significant portion of NASA's budget at all. Over the timescales we're talking about here better part of a century), it's a tenth of a percent of NASA's budget for the whole robotic ARM. And when you consider that we already need to do this tech demo for Mars anyway, the actual cost is even less. In all likelihood, it would lead to greater awareness of the threat and thus more resources for detection as well (which is something NASA will do anyway, but this may encourage more).

And again, enhanced mass also can help deflect threats like comets that aren't even visible until it's almost too late (and would be basically too late if you didn't already have such a capability).
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Pan-STARRS and ATLAS will get us much better statistics on impact probabilities and sizes over the next few years.  Even basic data like size distributions of Asteroids have had large unknowns and estimates have been very uncertain heretofore.

Offline arachnitect

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Pan-STARRS and ATLAS will get us much better statistics on impact probabilities and sizes over the next few years.  Even basic data like size distributions of Asteroids have had large unknowns and estimates have been very uncertain heretofore.

I was under the impression that many NEOs are invisible to ground based observatories, hence the need for something like Sentinel or NEOcam.

I'm sure this is at least an oversimplification, but is it true at any level?

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Before Pan-STARRS and ATLAS there were no ground scopes optimized for asteroid discovery.  Ergo the statistics have been poor as to the risk.  There are limitations on the ground scopes, such as asteroids not previously detected coming out of the Sun.  Doing better geographical dispersal is such telescopes would be a good idea and I believe both projects would like to do so, particularly to get better southern coverage and protection against gaps due to bad weather.

Note that due to the r squared rule, even small rocks get much brighter as they close in on Earth.

Interestingly, rocks come from pretty much any direction by the time they close in on Earth.

Offline jongoff

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Using ARM to test a gravity tractor is begging the question of the danger of asteroid impacts, it assumes that in the near future there will be one. According to Dr. Binzel the creator of the Torino Scale an asteroid impact which causes local destruction to an inhabited place happens on average of once every 10,000 years. Larger events happen much more rarely. If there is no threat there is no need to develop countermeasures.

I'm kind of skeptical of that number. Tunguska and Chelyabinsk were both close calls within the past 100 years.

Quote
ARM will cost at a minimum $1.25 billion and likely much more than that. For a small fraction of that a very intensive search for dangerous NEOs can be done. If that turns up anything bad then the government will effectively write a blank check to deal with it. NASA leadership has been talking about ARM for a while but only recently asked for money to conduct a search. Now they are saying that they don't even need to search because they have already picked the asteroids they want to target from the known catalog. ARM as it is being proposed now will not do the most simple, inexpensive, and important step of asteroid risk mitigation.

That's not correct. The ARM people publicly stated that while they have a few potential targets baselined, that they'd be continuing the search to try to find better targets, and that they'd only lock in the final target a year or so before launch. They've got a baseline that's interesting enough from an asteroid mining and science standpoint, but are still actively looking for more targets.

I agree that putting more funds into the search part makes sense for a ton of reasons, and have been on record advocating that for years. Both for planetary defense and for asteroid mining purposes, the more we know, the better. But you and several others (professor Binzel included) seem to magically think that canceling ARM is going to free up most of that money to go do something else. It won't. NASA still intends to do most of the expensive parts of ARM (a large SEP spacecraft, a flight mission, flying astronauts out to lunar space and doing simulated missions) even if the capture part is canceled. Canceling ARM is really going to only save a couple hundred million. While that could help with asteroid detection, that doesn't do anything for demonstrating planetary defense techniques or teaching us if asteroid mining is feasible--either of which are sufficiently interesting reasons for doing ARM.

Should they find a way to do ARM using public private partnerships to free up enough money to put more into serious asteroid detection? Of course! But acting as though the asteroid mining or the planetary defense characteristics don't matter is foolishness of the first order in my opinion.

~Jon

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Also, the demo is not a significant portion of NASA's budget at all.

To put it in perspective, if you canceled the part of ARM that NASA wouldn't be doing without ARM, it would free up something like 2-3 months of SLS budget. Canceling ARM and keeping SLS (when there aren't any useful missions for it within the next 20 years) is the definition of pennywise, pound foolish.

~Jon

Offline KelvinZero

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What portion of ARM is the gravity capture anyway? isn't it just an additional manoeuvre while holding the selected rock and some measurements?

Offline jongoff

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What portion of ARM is the gravity capture anyway? isn't it just an additional manoeuvre while holding the selected rock and some measurements?

Yeah. It adds about 6 months to the overall mission, and some fraction of the overall propellant load, so I don't know how much that equates to in added ops costs and prop costs.

~Jon

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If the propellant comes from contingency reserve (say, part of the uncertainty in rock size), it need not greatly increase fuel requirements.
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Offline A_M_Swallow

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ARM option B would test out a gravity tractor. As neat as that is what is the chance of devastating impact happening in the next few decades? I am not sure of the wisdom in developing a technology which might not be needed for millennia. Let me posit this though, if the threat of an asteroid impact causes real concern why not use the money to fund something like the B612 Foundation's Sentinel telescope so we could find all the potentially dangerous asteroids? If there is a rock heading at us the most pressing thing is to find it as soon as possible. Funding will materialize for all sorts of deflection strategies in short order.

In the run up to World War 2 the Royal Air Force (RAF) prepared to defend Britain from attack by enemy aircraft. Underground control rooms were built to connect the fighter aircraft - Spitfires and Hurricanes - to the string of coastal radar installations. These radars allowed sufficient time to scramble the fighters to intercept the incoming bombers. All 3 parts needed to work for a successful defence.

An ARM like spacecraft could be deployed to divert a dangerous incoming asteroid but the asteroid needs to be detected in time. In time is at least  2-3 years before impact.

Using the ARM mission times give in http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2015/04/asteroid-redirect-mission-path-mars
Diversion time 6 months (check same for real mission)
Flight launch to boulder collection 18 months
Scramble time (To be determined)
Total 6 + 18 + TBD = 24 months + TBD

To give Earth those 3 years warning a network of planetary defence telescopes on the Earth and satellites will be needed.

Congress is unlikely to allocate the money for the network's construction and operations until presented with the plans and costings. The ARM mission is a proof of concept that can be used to justify building the planetary defence telescopes.

Offline jongoff

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ARM option B would test out a gravity tractor. As neat as that is what is the chance of devastating impact happening in the next few decades? I am not sure of the wisdom in developing a technology which might not be needed for millennia. Let me posit this though, if the threat of an asteroid impact causes real concern why not use the money to fund something like the B612 Foundation's Sentinel telescope so we could find all the potentially dangerous asteroids? If there is a rock heading at us the most pressing thing is to find it as soon as possible. Funding will materialize for all sorts of deflection strategies in short order.

In the run up to World War 2 the Royal Air Force (RAF) prepared to defend Britain from attack by enemy aircraft. Underground control rooms were built to connect the fighter aircraft - Spitfires and Hurricanes - to the string of coastal radar installations. These radars allowed sufficient time to scramble the fighters to intercept the incoming bombers. All 3 parts needed to work for a successful defence.

An ARM like spacecraft could be deployed to divert a dangerous incoming asteroid but the asteroid needs to be detected in time. In time is at least  2-3 years before impact.

Using the ARM mission times give in http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2015/04/asteroid-redirect-mission-path-mars
Diversion time 6 months (check same for real mission)
Flight launch to boulder collection 18 months
Scramble time (To be determined)
Total 6 + 18 + TBD = 24 months + TBD

To give Earth those 3 years warning a network of planetary defence telescopes on the Earth and satellites will be needed.

Congress is unlikely to allocate the money for the network's construction and operations until presented with the plans and costings. The ARM mission is a proof of concept that can be used to justify building the planetary defence telescopes.

Andrew,

I agree with the general concept (that we need both detection and diversion capabilities demonstrated), though would quibble on the details.

I'm going to ping one of the authors on that Enhanced Gravity Tractor paper I just got forwarded to see if I can share it publicly. It provides a wealth of data on how Enhanced Gravity Tractors compare versus other concepts, and all the technical nuances needed to make it work.

~Jon

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What would it take to add a materials exposure test to the ARM robotic spacecraft? NASA has done similar experiments in the past on the ISS, and is planning something similar on the X-37B:

http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-test-materials-to-fly-on-air-force-space-plane

The point of the ARM variant is that it would gather data for the deep space environment rather than LEO. The idea is that when the astronauts investigate the retrieved boulder, they could also grab the materials exposure experiment and return it to Earth for analysis.

Similarly, what would it take to add a solar wind gathering instrument, similar to the one used for NASA's Genesis Discovery mission, to the ARM? The samples from the Genesis mission were somewhat compromised because the return capsule crashed. Again, the idea is that the astronauts would retrieve the experiment while they investigate the retrieved boulder.

Not being a spacecraft engineer, I'm imagining these would be fairly simple additions to the mission, just sort of sitting there being exposed to the space environment, not using a lot of spacecraft resources. Reality is probably more complicated, though. Maybe they'd need to be shielded before reaching the asteroid or something like that. How would these additions compare to alternative enhancements to ARM like squeezing in additional instruments to study the asteroid while there in terms of complexity, usefulness, and cost?

Offline jongoff

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What would it take to add a materials exposure test to the ARM robotic spacecraft? NASA has done similar experiments in the past on the ISS, and is planning something similar on the X-37B:

http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-test-materials-to-fly-on-air-force-space-plane

The point of the ARM variant is that it would gather data for the deep space environment rather than LEO. The idea is that when the astronauts investigate the retrieved boulder, they could also grab the materials exposure experiment and return it to Earth for analysis.

Similarly, what would it take to add a solar wind gathering instrument, similar to the one used for NASA's Genesis Discovery mission, to the ARM? The samples from the Genesis mission were somewhat compromised because the return capsule crashed. Again, the idea is that the astronauts would retrieve the experiment while they investigate the retrieved boulder.

Not being a spacecraft engineer, I'm imagining these would be fairly simple additions to the mission, just sort of sitting there being exposed to the space environment, not using a lot of spacecraft resources. Reality is probably more complicated, though. Maybe they'd need to be shielded before reaching the asteroid or something like that. How would these additions compare to alternative enhancements to ARM like squeezing in additional instruments to study the asteroid while there in terms of complexity, usefulness, and cost?

NASA was asking about potential hitchhiker/hosted payloads, so this would be possible, but I agree you'd want to seal the samples before you landed on the asteroid, to make sure your samples weren't totally contaminated by the asteroid dust. Not sure if it makes sense, but as one of the only times where we have a vehicle go out into deep space for a few years, and then return in its entirety (not just a small reentry capsule), I hope it would be educational.

~Jon

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I was checking Eric Berger's twitter account because of the Europa Clipper thread, and noticed the following:

"After spending time with @CongCulberson on Wednesday I am now less convinced the House cuts to NASA's Earth science budget will stick."

"Also got the sense that NASA's asteroid mission would not get hacked this year, at least in the House."

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On the Future Planetary Exploration blog (I believe the author posts here on planetary science topics), I followed a link to this slide presentation: "Emerging Capabilities for the Next Mars Orbiter" by Whetsel, Zurek, and Lock:

http://mepag.nasa.gov/meeting/2015-02/09_Lock_Whetsel.pdf

NASA is looking into a Mars telecommunications orbiter, but it could add a lot of science capability to that mission.  One of the things they're evaluating is using high power SEP, which would give them the ability to deliver more mass to Mars and to have more orbit flexibility, and also more power for instruments and telecommunications.  They give an example of an ARM-derived orbiter which would allow them a 300kg payload and also a return to the Earth region after a several year mission (I speculate that this is for sample return).  That is just one example; they also cover the telecommunications role and MRO-like functionality (i.e. Mars remote sensing).

One reason I mention this is to show some ideas of operational uses of the ARM SEP technology demonstration. 

Another reason is to speculate.  With the seemingly low support for the ARM mission, and recent discussions of changing ARM to go to Mars (e.g.: to Phobos), I wonder if there will be a push to translate ARM into a Mars mission like the one described in the slide presentation, instead of having separate ARM and Mars telecommunications+ missions.  It might not be a good idea to combine a technology demonstration with an operational mission that depends on the technology like the telecom orbiter would depend on the SEP demo, but it seems like ARM is already doing that.  It's not easy to see how NASA would be able to afford adding both ARM and a new and capable Mars orbiter while missions like Europa Clipper are being added.

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May 18, 2015
RELEASE 15-094
NASA Seeks Additional Information for Asteroid Redirect Mission Spacecraft

NASA has issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking ideas from American companies for a spacecraft design that could be used for both the agency's Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) and a robotic satellite servicing mission in low-Earth orbit.

In the early-2020s NASA plans to launch the Asteroid Redirect Mission, which will use a robotic spacecraft to capture a large boulder from the surface of a near-Earth asteroid and move it into a stable orbit around the moon for exploration by astronauts, all in support of advancing the nation's journey to Mars.

NASA also has been studying the "Restore-L" mission concept, during which a spacecraft would use dexterous robotic systems to grapple and refuel a government satellite in low-Earth orbit. Restore-L would bring to operational status capabilities needed for future commercial satellite servicing by demonstrating technologies and reducing risk.

"Today's call for ideas from our industry partners is another important milestone for the Asteroid Redirect Mission, a critical capability demonstration mission that's part of our stepping stone approach for sending American astronauts to Mars in the 2030s," said NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot. "As part of our acquisition strategy, we're asking for more information toward the ARM spacecraft concept and also on commonality with a notional robotic satellite servicing spacecraft."

The RFI is not a request for proposal or formal procurement and therefore is not a solicitation or commitment by the government. Deadline for submissions is 45 days after public posting of the RFI. The full RFI is available at:

http://www.nasa.gov/feature/arm-spacecraft-bus-request-for-information

Following its rendezvous and touchdown with the target asteroid, the uncrewed ARM spacecraft will deploy robotic arms to capture a large boulder from its surface. It then will begin a multi-year journey to redirect the boulder into orbit around the moon.

Throughout its mission, the ARM robotic spacecraft will test a number of capabilities needed for future human missions, including advanced Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP), a valuable capability that converts sunlight to electrical power through solar arrays and then uses the resulting power to propel charged atoms to move a spacecraft. This method of propulsion can move massive cargo very efficiently. While slower than conventional chemical rocket propulsion, SEP-powered spacecraft require significantly less propellant and fewer launches to support human exploration missions, which could reduce costs.

This RFI seeks spacecraft designs that may include taking advantage of Xenon capacity SEP, single or multiple component architectures and cost-sharing partnerships.

Future SEP-powered spacecraft could pre-position cargo or vehicles for future human missions into deep space, either awaiting crews at Mars or staged around the moon as a waypoint for expeditions to the Red Planet.

ARM's SEP-powered robotic spacecraft will test new trajectory and navigation techniques in deep space, working with the moon's gravity to place the asteroid in a stable lunar orbit called a distant retrograde orbit. This location is a suitable staging point for astronauts to rendezvous with a deep space habitat that will carry them to Mars.

Before the large asteroid boulder is moved to lunar orbit, NASA will use the opportunity to test planetary defense techniques to inform mitigation of potential asteroid impact threats in the future. The experience and knowledge acquired through this operation will help NASA develop options to move an asteroid off an Earth-impacting course, if and when that becomes necessary.

NASA's Near Earth Objects Program continues to implement new capabilities and upgrades to existing projects for detecting and cataloging asteroids. The agency also has engaged non-traditional partners and the public in the hunt for undetected asteroids through the NASA's Asteroid Grand Challenge activities, including prize competitions. In March, the agency announced the release of a software application based on an algorithm created through a NASA challenge that has the potential to help increase the number of asteroid detections in collected sky images.

For more information about NASA's Asteroid Initiative, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/asteroidinitiative

For more information about NASA's robotic satellite servicing capabilities office, visit:

http://go.usa.gov/3kpV5

Offline MattMason

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May 18, 2015
RELEASE 15-094
NASA Seeks Additional Information for Asteroid Redirect Mission Spacecraft

NASA has issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking ideas from American companies for a spacecraft design that could be used for both the agency's Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) and a robotic satellite servicing mission in low-Earth orbit.

In the early-2020s NASA plans to launch the Asteroid Redirect Mission, which will use a robotic spacecraft to capture a large boulder from the surface of a near-Earth asteroid and move it into a stable orbit around the moon for exploration by astronauts, all in support of advancing the nation's journey to Mars.

NASA also has been studying the "Restore-L" mission concept, during which a spacecraft would use dexterous robotic systems to grapple and refuel a government satellite in low-Earth orbit. Restore-L would bring to operational status capabilities needed for future commercial satellite servicing by demonstrating technologies and reducing risk.

"Today's call for ideas from our industry partners is another important milestone for the Asteroid Redirect Mission, a critical capability demonstration mission that's part of our stepping stone approach for sending American astronauts to Mars in the 2030s," said NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot. "As part of our acquisition strategy, we're asking for more information toward the ARM spacecraft concept and also on commonality with a notional robotic satellite servicing spacecraft."

The RFI is not a request for proposal or formal procurement and therefore is not a solicitation or commitment by the government. Deadline for submissions is 45 days after public posting of the RFI. The full RFI is available at:

http://www.nasa.gov/feature/arm-spacecraft-bus-request-for-information

Following its rendezvous and touchdown with the target asteroid, the uncrewed ARM spacecraft will deploy robotic arms to capture a large boulder from its surface. It then will begin a multi-year journey to redirect the boulder into orbit around the moon.

Throughout its mission, the ARM robotic spacecraft will test a number of capabilities needed for future human missions, including advanced Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP), a valuable capability that converts sunlight to electrical power through solar arrays and then uses the resulting power to propel charged atoms to move a spacecraft. This method of propulsion can move massive cargo very efficiently. While slower than conventional chemical rocket propulsion, SEP-powered spacecraft require significantly less propellant and fewer launches to support human exploration missions, which could reduce costs.

This RFI seeks spacecraft designs that may include taking advantage of Xenon capacity SEP, single or multiple component architectures and cost-sharing partnerships.

Future SEP-powered spacecraft could pre-position cargo or vehicles for future human missions into deep space, either awaiting crews at Mars or staged around the moon as a waypoint for expeditions to the Red Planet.

ARM's SEP-powered robotic spacecraft will test new trajectory and navigation techniques in deep space, working with the moon's gravity to place the asteroid in a stable lunar orbit called a distant retrograde orbit. This location is a suitable staging point for astronauts to rendezvous with a deep space habitat that will carry them to Mars.

Before the large asteroid boulder is moved to lunar orbit, NASA will use the opportunity to test planetary defense techniques to inform mitigation of potential asteroid impact threats in the future. The experience and knowledge acquired through this operation will help NASA develop options to move an asteroid off an Earth-impacting course, if and when that becomes necessary.

NASA's Near Earth Objects Program continues to implement new capabilities and upgrades to existing projects for detecting and cataloging asteroids. The agency also has engaged non-traditional partners and the public in the hunt for undetected asteroids through the NASA's Asteroid Grand Challenge activities, including prize competitions. In March, the agency announced the release of a software application based on an algorithm created through a NASA challenge that has the potential to help increase the number of asteroid detections in collected sky images.

For more information about NASA's Asteroid Initiative, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/asteroidinitiative

For more information about NASA's robotic satellite servicing capabilities office, visit:

http://go.usa.gov/3kpV5

This is a call-to-arms to our Teenaged Independent Rocket Forces as ever I've heard one. (Impulse Power!)

There's been so much technology utilized already for cargo and in development for HSF for ISS support that could get upscaled for near-BEO ARM, even robotically, faster than what I understand is woefully underdeveloped on the SLS side.

The notion even seems like those asteroid disaster movies. Lockheed sending a flotilla of angry-armed Jupiters. Several Falcon Heavy payloads combining into a BFAsteroidMover. ULA showing the young'uns how stuff gets done with a few gadgets "on loan" from their USAF work. Even Arianespace and Roscosmos would have a trick.

The question, as the oldest of these movies demonstrated when redirect isn't happening, "When Worlds Collide," is a matter of coordination of what resources are available and before redirect can't happen.
« Last Edit: 05/20/2015 07:36 PM by MattMason »
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Offline Scylla

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ARM Formulation Assessment And Support Team
http://www.coloradospacenews.com/arm-formulation-assessment-and-support-team/

August 29, 2015 – In the early-2020s NASA plans to launch the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), which will use a robotic spacecraft to capture a large boulder from the surface of a near-Earth asteroid and move it into a stable orbit around the moon for exploration by astronauts, all in support of advancing the nation’s journey to Mars.

Throughout its mission, the ARM robotic spacecraft will test a number of capabilities needed for future human missions, including advanced Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP), a valuable capability that converts sunlight to electrical power through solar arrays and then uses the resulting power to propel charged atoms to move a spacecraft.

On July 7, 2015, NASA invited scientists, technologists, and other qualified and interested individuals to apply for membership on the Formulation Assessment and Support Team (FAST) for ARM. This call was open to all qualified and interested individuals (U.S. citizens and permanent residents) at U.S. institutions or representing themselves.

The application deadline was August 7, 2015 and 100 applications were received from highly qualified individuals representing academia, industry, NASA, non-profit research institutes, and other organizations.

On August 25, NASA announced the selection of 18 individuals to serve on the Asteroid Redirect Mission FAST. Members of the team will assist NASA in developing mission requirements, potential mission investigations, and developing a list of potential hosted payloads and partnerships.

The 18 member FAST team will include:

Erik Asphaug, Arizona State University
Neyda Abreu, Penn State University
Jim Bell, Arizona State University
Bill Bottke, Southwest Research Institute
Dan Britt, University of Central Florida
Humberto Campins, University of Central Florida
Paul Chodas, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Carolyn Ernst, John Hopkins University-Applied Physics Laboratory
Marc Fries, NASA Johnson Space Center
Leslie Geruch, Missouri University of Science and Technology
Danny Glavin, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Christine Harzell, University of Maryland
Amanda Hendrix, Planetary Science Institute
Joe Nuth, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Dan Scheeres, University of Colorado
Joel Sercel, TransAstra
Driss Takir, United States Geological Survey
Kris Zacny, Honeybee Robotics
NASA also encourages constructive input from outside of the FAST. Send inputs to hq-arm-fast@mail.nasa.gov.

The final report of the ARM FAST will be submitted to NASA around November 20, 2015 and is expected to be publicly accessible and available for comment at that time. The FAST will make every effort to include inputs that are received in a timely manner.

The selection memorandum with a list of the selected FAST team members is posted online: http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/20150821-arm-fast-selection-memo.pdf
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Offline jongoff

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Glad to see Kris Zacny is on the list. He's done a lot of work in sample acquisition robotics there at Honeybee. It'll be interesting to see what they come up with. ARM, if done right, could be an exciting mission. I'm just worried NASA will bloat it to death trying to spread the wealth to as many NASA centers as possible as a political expedient to try and keep the program from getting canceled if a Republican wins the WH next year.

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Offline redliox

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Um...anything new about ARM or is it starting to turn belly up already?
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Offline Jim

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The agency is fully engaged with this mission.

Offline mfck

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The agency is fully engaged with this mission.
I honestly wonder what "fully" means in this context..

Is it along the lines of 'engaged on all fronts of politics, finance, engineering, logistics and science of the mission' or like 'we'd like to do more, but this is what our budget allows us'?

Offline Jim

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Is it along the lines of 'engaged on all fronts of politics, finance, engineering, logistics and science of the mission'

yes.  What else would SLS and Orion do without it?
« Last Edit: 10/13/2015 06:22 PM by Jim »

Offline sdsds

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What else would SLS and Orion do without it?

Jim meant this as a rhetorical question but I think it is worth evaluating. Without the redirected asteroid emplaced in Lunar DRO, SLS and Orion could do either of two things, each less impressive than the ARCM. But although less impressive, they would fulfill many of the actual objectives of the Asteroid Redirect Crewed Mission.

Be informed. Those objectives are clearly stated in:
http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/756143main_ARCM%20Reference%20Concept%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

The sample return objectives of the mission are barely more than footnotes.

Most of the objectives would be met by a significantly descoped mission in which a crew reached and loitered in LDRO or some other high cis-lunar orbit. More of them would be met if the mission involved an Earth-launched rendezvous target (say a Cygnus-like inhabitable module).

Agreed of course those descoped missions would have no science value. But if what was really wanted from an asteroid sample return mission was, you know, a sample of an asteroid, then the mission wouldn't be using a crew at all.
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Offline arachnitect

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Interesting that only two astronauts will be flown, "because a couple of seats will be used to store the suits."

Offline TrevorMonty

Using sun to mine an asteroid. ZeroG ISRU is on NASA wishlist, the ARM will give them something to test this technology out on.

http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/space/stories/asteroids-gas-stations-space

Online Blackstar

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On Oct. 30 there was an extended telecon to discuss ARM. It was an open telecon and I know two people who listened in (there were also slides) and both said that it was very informative and interesting. Anybody know if there's a link to this anywhere?

Offline jongoff

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On Oct. 30 there was an extended telecon to discuss ARM. It was an open telecon and I know two people who listened in (there were also slides) and both said that it was very informative and interesting. Anybody know if there's a link to this anywhere?

I'll ask around.

~Jon


Offline jongoff

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I found it:

http://www.nasa.gov/feature/asteroid-redirect-mission-community-update

The recording is here:

https://ac.arc.nasa.gov/p2uso7polyj/?launcher=false&fcsContent=true&pbMode=normal



Cool. There was also a report released earlier this week by the industry/govt/academia team that NASA pulled together to advise the program.

http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/fast-final-report-draft-for-public-comment.pdf

Mostly dry technical details in this one though.

~Jon

Offline Moe Grills

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WOW! Christmas came early this year - real early. Look what the NASA Advisory Council just suggested NASA do.
http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2015/04/advisors-to-nasa-dump-the-asteroid-mission-and-go-to-phobos-instead/

Upthread I think I pretty much said the exact same thing.

;D  (Dances around the Christmas tree)  ;D

Well, yeah! The Martian moons are ....really...asteroids; asteroids orbiting Mars. Anyone want to dispute that?
Sending an Orion, with a much enlarged Service Module(a Bigelow inflatable?) to Phobos would be BOTH a Mars mission and an asteroid mission in ONE. Taxpayers would get more bang for their buck.

Offline Paul451

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Sending an Orion, with a much enlarged Service Module(a Bigelow inflatable?) to Phobos would be BOTH a Mars mission and an asteroid mission in ONE. Taxpayers would get more bang for their buck.

Pedantically: A Bigelow module is a hab, it requires a service module, it doesn't serve as one.

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Sending an Orion, with a much enlarged Service Module(a Bigelow inflatable?) to Phobos would be BOTH a Mars mission and an asteroid mission in ONE. Taxpayers would get more bang for their buck.

A multi-year mission far beyond any hope of quick return in the event of problems in not one but two untested spacecraft. You'll excuse me for blowing cold on that as a mission concept for EM-2.
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Offline RocketGoBoom

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Is the astroid return mission dead ? It makes sense that it will be killed next year.
Nobody is really enthusiastic about it.

http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/02/nasas-asteroid-mission-isnt-deadyet/

Quote
After studying the problem, NASA engineers concluded they didn’t have the tools or the budget to mount a human mission to an asteroid. They couldn’t even come close to the 2025 date. So NASA kludged a solution that became known as the asteroid retrieval mission, or ARM.

Under this plan the agency would send a robotic spacecraft out into the Solar System, grab an SUV-sized boulder off the surface of an asteroid, and bring it back to the vicinity of the Moon. Astronauts would then visit it in 2025. Technically, this still met Obama’s goal. But it was an unhappy solution for most involved, and it wasn’t clear how this brought the agency much closer to its ultimate destination of Mars.

Ars reached out to one space industry veteran who listened to Radzanowski’s presentation for clarification. This politically connected analyst, who did not want to damage his reputation with NASA, offered a blunt explanation for Radzanowski’s asteroid comments: “Oh come on, these poor guys are just trying to get through one more budget release with a shred of dignity intact knowing it’s all in the crapper next year.”

That seems an all too realistic possibility. Congress has been lukewarm in its support of the asteroid mission, at best. Many scientists who study asteroids have said it doesn’t contribute much to their field of work. And it doesn’t seem likely a new president will embrace a “near-term” mission that won’t be completed during his or her administration.

One former senior NASA official who has retained contacts within the agency’s Washington DC headquarters said NASA is unlikely to go to bat for the asteroid mission with the next president. “Nobody believes in the ARM mission,” this source told Ars. “When the boss says go make this happen, you have to jump. That’s part of the deal. But deep in their hearts, is anybody really sold on ARM? I don’t think so.”


Offline Hop_David

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Is the astroid return mission dead ? It makes sense that it will be killed next year.
Nobody is really enthusiastic about it.

Most seem to be enthusiastic about paying lip service to Mars colonization while laughing all the way to the bank. It's not about attainable goals. Rather political pork.

Mining asteroids is a long shot but still has a better chance than Zubrin's pipe dreams.

Offline arachnitect

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Sorry, what's in the pipeline that's so much better than ARRM?


If anyone at NASA is feeling bored, I'd be happy to switch places on Monday.

And I understand that the scientists might not be interested, but "not going extinct" has compelling practical applications.

Offline sdsds

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"not going extinct" has compelling practical applications.

Yes, and if the asteroid redirect mission were going to -- you know -- actually redirect an asteroid, it would be ever more compelling! But returning a boulder from an asteroid, while it might meet the science objectives, wouldn't help so much on the "not going extinct" front.
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Offline arachnitect

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"not going extinct" has compelling practical applications.

Yes, and if the asteroid redirect mission were going to -- you know -- actually redirect an asteroid, it would be ever more compelling! But returning a boulder from an asteroid, while it might meet the science objectives, wouldn't help so much on the "not going extinct" front.

Bagging a whole asteroid would make a snappier headline, but that approach ("Option A") is challenging to scale up to planetary defense size.

ARRM would be a chance to try Ion Beam or Gravity Tractor deflection at a meaningful scale. Operating a multi ton spacecraft with 30 meter solar arrays in close proximity to an asteroid is going to be a learning experience no matter what happens. We don't actually have much experience operating close to small bodies, and those few experiences haven't gone entirely well.

Offline RocketGoBoom

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"not going extinct" has compelling practical applications.

Yes, and if the asteroid redirect mission were going to -- you know -- actually redirect an asteroid, it would be ever more compelling! But returning a boulder from an asteroid, while it might meet the science objectives, wouldn't help so much on the "not going extinct" front.

Learning the mechanics of moving a boulder in space is very practical. Applying those same lessons to a much larger object in the future, if such an object were on a course to impact Earth, seems worthwhile. If it is early enough, it would only take a small nudge to avoid an impact.

So generally I support the concept of ARM.

However the secondary mission of having humans visit the astroid while it orbits the moon, that mission seems useless to me. That is just an excuse to give Orion and SLS a mission.

Offline QuantumG

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However the secondary mission of having humans visit the astroid while it orbits the moon, that mission seems useless to me. That is just an excuse to give Orion and SLS a mission.

You're supposed to imagine astronauts flying to Mars in an Orion with a habitation module attached and visiting Phobos or Deimos. Kinda like Apollo 10.
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Offline sdsds

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Bagging a whole asteroid would make a snappier headline, but that approach ("Option A") is challenging to scale up to planetary defense size.

ARRM would be a chance to try Ion Beam or Gravity Tractor deflection at a meaningful scale.

Fair enough. If either of these deflection techniques were tested in an "Option B" mission it would be more than mildly interesting. Perhaps I am too cynical in thinking that deflection would be de-scoped before the actual mission was launched....
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Offline A_M_Swallow

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Bagging a whole asteroid would make a snappier headline, but that approach ("Option A") is challenging to scale up to planetary defense size.

ARRM would be a chance to try Ion Beam or Gravity Tractor deflection at a meaningful scale.

Fair enough. If either of these deflection techniques were tested in an "Option B" mission it would be more than mildly interesting. Perhaps I am too cynical in thinking that deflection would be de-scoped before the actual mission was launched....

NASA can change where ARRM puts its rock after the SEP is launched.

As for deflecting the main asteroid I suspect the navigator will find he is dealing with a 'curved ball'. This is an extreme example of the old cricket cheat of cutting a chunk off the ball so it spins in a weird way. This helped the bowler and hindered the batsman. The mathematical models may have to allow for this.

The manned part of the mission could be down graded to a robotic sample gathering mission. Or used to test the Phobos transfer vehicle and lander.

Offline Hop_David

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"not going extinct" has compelling practical applications.

Yes, and if the asteroid redirect mission were going to -- you know -- actually redirect an asteroid, it would be ever more compelling! But returning a boulder from an asteroid, while it might meet the science objectives, wouldn't help so much on the "not going extinct" front.

Bagging a whole asteroid would make a snappier headline, but that approach ("Option A") is challenging to scale up to planetary defense size.

ARRM would be a chance to try Ion Beam or Gravity Tractor deflection at a meaningful scale. Operating a multi ton spacecraft with 30 meter solar arrays in close proximity to an asteroid is going to be a learning experience no matter what happens. We don't actually have much experience operating close to small bodies, and those few experiences haven't gone entirely well.

How often do Chicxulub sized rocks hit? Every 75 million years or so?

How often do Tunguska or Chelyabinsk sized rocks hit? Well, those two were about a century apart.

City killing rocks are a more immediate concern than dino killers.

The vehicle proposed in the Keck Report could park a 500 tonne rock in lunar orbit. It was estimated the delta V budget would be around .2 km/s.

However deflecting an asteroid could take much less delta V than parking it. Especially if a potential impactor is detected a few years prior to impact.

It's my opinion that an SEP vehicle similar to one described in the Keck Report could deflect a city killer.

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Satellite-Servicing Test Could Replace Asteroid Mission
Aviation Week & Space Technology
Frank Morring, Jr.
Fri, 2016-02-12 04:00

The $19 billion election-year NASA budget request includes $130 million for a robotic satellite-servicing experiment that could demonstrate some of the exploration technologies intended for the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), which lacks support in the Republican-controlled Congress.

That potential alternate mission, known as Restore-L, would use robotic and other technology originally conceived for ARM to test in-space satellite servicing on an old Landsat spacecraft. With a new administration on the horizon, Restore-L offers another way to validate capabilities seen as necessary for eventual human exploration at Mars, including solar electric propulsion (SEP).

The asteroid mission evolved from President Barack Obama’s 2010 call for a human landing on an asteroid in 2025 into a planned attempt to pluck a large boulder from a near-Earth asteroid and return it to lunar orbit for study by astronauts arriving in an Orion capsule launched on the heavy-lift Space Launch System. NASA and the White House continue to push ARM as an integrated way to exercise the spacecraft and technologies needed for human missions to Mars.

But the robotic portion of ARM—the SEP-driven spacecraft that would collect the asteroid sample—has not received any funding from Congress, where Republicans overseeing the space program consider it an ill-conceived sideshow that would slow human exploration.

Online Robotbeat

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Is the astroid return mission dead ? It makes sense that it will be killed next year.
Nobody is really enthusiastic about it.

http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/02/nasas-asteroid-mission-isnt-deadyet/

Quote
After studying the problem, NASA engineers concluded they didn’t have the tools or the budget to mount a human mission to an asteroid. They couldn’t even come close to the 2025 date. So NASA kludged a solution that became known as the asteroid retrieval mission, or ARM.

Under this plan the agency would send a robotic spacecraft out into the Solar System, grab an SUV-sized boulder off the surface of an asteroid, and bring it back to the vicinity of the Moon. Astronauts would then visit it in 2025. Technically, this still met Obama’s goal. But it was an unhappy solution for most involved, and it wasn’t clear how this brought the agency much closer to its ultimate destination of Mars.

Ars reached out to one space industry veteran who listened to Radzanowski’s presentation for clarification. This politically connected analyst, who did not want to damage his reputation with NASA, offered a blunt explanation for Radzanowski’s asteroid comments: “Oh come on, these poor guys are just trying to get through one more budget release with a shred of dignity intact knowing it’s all in the crapper next year.”

That seems an all too realistic possibility. Congress has been lukewarm in its support of the asteroid mission, at best. Many scientists who study asteroids have said it doesn’t contribute much to their field of work. And it doesn’t seem likely a new president will embrace a “near-term” mission that won’t be completed during his or her administration.

One former senior NASA official who has retained contacts within the agency’s Washington DC headquarters said NASA is unlikely to go to bat for the asteroid mission with the next president. “Nobody believes in the ARM mission,” this source told Ars. “When the boss says go make this happen, you have to jump. That’s part of the deal. But deep in their hearts, is anybody really sold on ARM? I don’t think so.”
Dumb article.

1) demonstrates enhanced gravity tractor technique and overall maneuvering around an asteroid
2) demonstrates SEP
3) demonstrates techniques for extraction of significant amounts of asteroid material
4) allows high amount of sample return, orders of magnitude more than other missions (which by themselves cost a lot of money). This doesn't make it a substitute for Osiris-Rex, but definitely would be helpful.
5) puts a big rock in lunar orbit, a perfect low-latency testbed for real asteroid mining, significantly accelerating the capability to mine asteroids
6) is a heck of a lot better than just a crewed mission to an empty point in space
7) Potentially the vehicle could be reused again for commercial uses
8) Could work for Phobos or Deimos, too. Perhaps even the same vehicle. This would allow Phobos/Deimos ISRU and a perfect stepping stone to Mars.

ARM is a good idea, and it has gotten even better since it started. It's one idea that people don't like because it's new and they didn't anticipate it, so they find no actual reason why it's a bad idea, just making appeals to popularity. It's no one's old hobby horse, like the Moon and Mars are.

My /personal/ view is that I'm sold on it, and I work at NASA. I count as an "anybody." So that "former senior NASA official" (which sounds like Griffin?) is demonstrably wrong.
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BTW, I've seen a proposal to use enhanced impactors using the ARM vehicle to deflect objects much faster than a gravity tractor could, i.e. it could even deflect some comets. This just goes to show how powerful being able to harness mass already in space is.

ARM is a radical idea, the first truly /spacefaring/ idea that I've really seen get significant traction at NASA. I'm not surprised that Congress doesn't care for it, because it doesn't actually guarantee either SLS or Orion.
« Last Edit: 02/13/2016 12:09 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline Proponent

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I think the robotic aspects of ARM are pretty cool.  But the idea of dragging a rock halfway across the solar system robotically and then sending a crew to cover the last 400,000 km seems daft.  It does make some sense, however, if you're operating under the dual constraints of 1) having to use Orion/SLS for something, while 2) not having the budget for landers and the other in-space elements needed for serious lunar or Martian exploration.

Offline the_other_Doug

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Is the astroid return mission dead ? It makes sense that it will be killed next year.
Nobody is really enthusiastic about it.

http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/02/nasas-asteroid-mission-isnt-deadyet/

Quote
After studying the problem, NASA engineers concluded they didn’t have the tools or the budget to mount a human mission to an asteroid. They couldn’t even come close to the 2025 date. So NASA kludged a solution that became known as the asteroid retrieval mission, or ARM.

Under this plan the agency would send a robotic spacecraft out into the Solar System, grab an SUV-sized boulder off the surface of an asteroid, and bring it back to the vicinity of the Moon. Astronauts would then visit it in 2025. Technically, this still met Obama’s goal. But it was an unhappy solution for most involved, and it wasn’t clear how this brought the agency much closer to its ultimate destination of Mars.

Ars reached out to one space industry veteran who listened to Radzanowski’s presentation for clarification. This politically connected analyst, who did not want to damage his reputation with NASA, offered a blunt explanation for Radzanowski’s asteroid comments: “Oh come on, these poor guys are just trying to get through one more budget release with a shred of dignity intact knowing it’s all in the crapper next year.”

That seems an all too realistic possibility. Congress has been lukewarm in its support of the asteroid mission, at best. Many scientists who study asteroids have said it doesn’t contribute much to their field of work. And it doesn’t seem likely a new president will embrace a “near-term” mission that won’t be completed during his or her administration.

One former senior NASA official who has retained contacts within the agency’s Washington DC headquarters said NASA is unlikely to go to bat for the asteroid mission with the next president. “Nobody believes in the ARM mission,” this source told Ars. “When the boss says go make this happen, you have to jump. That’s part of the deal. But deep in their hearts, is anybody really sold on ARM? I don’t think so.”
Dumb article.

1) demonstrates enhanced gravity tractor technique and overall maneuvering around an asteroid
2) demonstrates SEP
3) demonstrates techniques for extraction of significant amounts of asteroid material
4) allows high amount of sample return, orders of magnitude more than other missions (which by themselves cost a lot of money). This doesn't make it a substitute for Osiris-Rex, but definitely would be helpful.
5) puts a big rock in lunar orbit, a perfect low-latency testbed for real asteroid mining, significantly accelerating the capability to mine asteroids
6) is a heck of a lot better than just a crewed mission to an empty point in space
7) Potentially the vehicle could be reused again for commercial uses
8) Could work for Phobos or Deimos, too. Perhaps even the same vehicle. This would allow Phobos/Deimos ISRU and a perfect stepping stone to Mars.

ARM is a good idea, and it has gotten even better since it started. It's one idea that people don't like because it's new and they didn't anticipate it, so they find no actual reason why it's a bad idea, just making appeals to popularity. It's no one's old hobby horse, like the Moon and Mars are.

My /personal/ view is that I'm sold on it, and I work at NASA. I count as an "anybody." So that "former senior NASA official" (which sounds like Griffin?) is demonstrably wrong.

I totally agree with Robotbeat.  In addition, I will add that you can quote two people out of, what, several thousand, and make it sound like they represent the views of the entire body of NASA engineers.  It's euphemistically called advocacy journalism; it doesn't try to present a reflection of the truth, it presents tailored "facts" and quotes, often out of context, to try and push a specific agenda.

It's an easy trap to fall into as a journalist -- you think "Well, I just know this is a really bad idea, so I'll find me a few people who agree with me and quote them as saying it's a bad idea."  Before you know it, you're ignoring a vast majority of voices that disagree with your position, and ignoring real facts as well, in order to push your agenda.

Sounds to me like the Ars reporter who wrote that article was determined that ARM is a bad idea and that SLS is a bad idea, so he/she was going to write an article that proves it, in spite of the many voices and facts that disagree with him/her...
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Offline zubenelgenubi

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Good thoughts, Robotbeat and Doug.

A thought re: "advocacy journalism"
Way back in the days of vibrant newspaper journalism, most American cities and even large towns had a minimum of 2 daily newspapers.  One was probably a morning-distribution newspaper, and the other would be an evening-distribution newspaper.  One newspaper's editorial staff would be generally aligned with the Democratic party, and the other with the Republicans.

(Example: Dayton, Ohio's Journal-Herald and Dayton Daily News)

A household interested in "fair and balanced coverage," and with sufficient funds to carry 2 newspaper subscriptions, would subscribe to both newspapers.  One could be read in the morning, and the other in the evening.

The "advocacy journalism" of either paper would likely be countered by similar journalism from the other.  The reader could synthesize his or her understanding from the input of both newspapers.

We need more "space journalism."  So much journalism today is "advocacy journalism" (agitprop).

With more space journalism, then even if one space journalist can't refrain from writing advocacy articles, at least there's a better chance of another space journalist, reporting on the same topic, providing counter-advocacy.

Then, the intelligent, interested reader can better synthesize a fuller understanding.

(Does this make sense?)
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Offline Coastal Ron

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Dumb article.

1) demonstrates enhanced gravity tractor technique and overall maneuvering around an asteroid
2) demonstrates SEP
3) demonstrates techniques for extraction of significant amounts of asteroid material
4) allows high amount of sample return, orders of magnitude more than other missions (which by themselves cost a lot of money). This doesn't make it a substitute for Osiris-Rex, but definitely would be helpful.
5) puts a big rock in lunar orbit, a perfect low-latency testbed for real asteroid mining, significantly accelerating the capability to mine asteroids
6) is a heck of a lot better than just a crewed mission to an empty point in space
7) Potentially the vehicle could be reused again for commercial uses
8.) Could work for Phobos or Deimos, too. Perhaps even the same vehicle. This would allow Phobos/Deimos ISRU and a perfect stepping stone to Mars.

1)  Do we need this to go to Mars?
2)  But there other ways to demonstrate SEP
3)  Is extraction of significant amounts of asteroid material needed by NASA to get to Mars?
4)  Is sample return needed by NASA to get to Mars?
5)  Can't this be done by NASA contracting with the private sector?  I.E. why NASA?
6)  This is a low bar, and one that only applies to the SLS and Orion - which aren't needed anyways.
7)  Admirable, but is it likely?  And would this be an official goal?
8.)  OK, this sound like it supports NASA's goal for Mars.

I guess my overall point is that NASA doesn't have the time or money to do too many things, and if NASA's goal is Mars then the ARM sounds like a distraction from that goal.

Quote
ARM is a good idea, and it has gotten even better since it started. It's one idea that people don't like because it's new and they didn't anticipate it, so they find no actual reason why it's a bad idea, just making appeals to popularity. It's no one's old hobby horse, like the Moon and Mars are.

I don't see it that way.  When it was announced, the first thing that came to mind was that this was a mission proposed to create a need for the SLS and the Orion, and the justification was that it satisfied Obama's goal for reaching an asteroid in the mid-2020's - which it obviously doesn't do.

Plus, regardless if it's not a previously owned idea, due to the fact that both houses of Congress are Republican controlled, and that the goal of the Republican leadership is to give Obama as few "wins" as possible, it was never going to be seriously considered.  The only thing it has going for it is that it uses the SLS and the Orion, which desperately need some form of justification, but so far not even that has helped it.

Quote
My /personal/ view is that I'm sold on it, and I work at NASA. I count as an "anybody." So that "former senior NASA official" (which sounds like Griffin?) is demonstrably wrong.

It does develop new technologies, and it is a challenging goal.  No doubt about that.  But if NASA's #1 HSF goal is Mars, then the ARM is not on the critical path for that.  Not sure how you change that perception...
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Offline A_M_Swallow

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{snip}
It does develop new technologies, and it is a challenging goal.  No doubt about that.  But if NASA's #1 HSF goal is Mars, then the ARM is not on the critical path for that.  Not sure how you change that perception...

ARM may not be on the Mars critical path but SEP carrying cargo to Mars orbit is.

Offline redliox

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It does develop new technologies, and it is a challenging goal.  No doubt about that.  But if NASA's #1 HSF goal is Mars, then the ARM is not on the critical path for that.  Not sure how you change that perception...
8) Could work for Phobos or Deimos, too. Perhaps even the same vehicle. This would allow Phobos/Deimos ISRU and a perfect stepping stone to Mars.

ARM is a good idea, and it has gotten even better since it started. It's one idea that people don't like because it's new and they didn't anticipate it, so they find no actual reason why it's a bad idea, just making appeals to popularity. It's no one's old hobby horse, like the Moon and Mars are.

My /personal/ view is that I'm sold on it, and I work at NASA. I count as an "anybody." So that "former senior NASA official" (which sounds like Griffin?) is demonstrably wrong.

It wasn't exactly the best marriage of ideas, although the idea to demonstrate large-scale SEP is the steadfast useful aspect.  The asteroid idea was meant to test a human flight, but apparently most NEOs don't align with Earth half as conveniently as Mars...so the thought of a crewed asteroid expedition died first.  :(  However, I do believe the best idea is to reroute it to Phobos like the NAC suggested; Bolden is just bound by law to follow Obama's asteroid idea.

I think the robotic aspects of ARM are pretty cool.  But the idea of dragging a rock halfway across the solar system robotically and then sending a crew to cover the last 400,000 km seems daft.  It does make some sense, however, if you're operating under the dual constraints of 1) having to use Orion/SLS for something, while 2) not having the budget for landers and the other in-space elements needed for serious lunar or Martian exploration.

I agree for the most part with your statement Pro, I just disagree on ARM being the best idea even under improvised conditions.  Still as I implied earlier, there's a chance something could be salvaged from it once administrations change.  Getting a piece of Phobos, especially if coated in Martian dust, would be worthwhile scientifically whereas with asteroids, to quote Obama's slightly infamous speech, "We've already been there."  (Hayabusha 1 & 2, NEAR, Osiris-REX...Philae if you count comets)

1)  Do we need this to go to Mars?
2)  But there other ways to demonstrate SEP
3)  Is extraction of significant amounts of asteroid material needed by NASA to get to Mars?
4)  Is sample return needed by NASA to get to Mars?
5)  Can't this be done by NASA contracting with the private sector?  I.E. why NASA?
6)  This is a low bar, and one that only applies to the SLS and Orion - which aren't needed anyways.
7)  Admirable, but is it likely?  And would this be an official goal?

1) Maybe; the "yes" factor in the sense that some prototype hardware inevitably needs to be sent ahead; ARM could test similar crew hardware in Mars orbit.
2) Maybe; but something substantially bigger than the average probe probe needs to be sent to demonstrate and flying all the way to Mars and back would fully remove doubts on its capability.
3) No; if Phobos/Deimos are used instead they could verify ISRU possibilities but if there's to be fuel extracted, Mars is the best option.
4) No
5) Yes, at least for ARM; exception being life support and rad-shielding which NASA ought to share if it has any edge over commercial hardware.
6) Maybe; the whole thing is debatable but best way to settle is to see how the first two Falcon Heavies fly in regards to SLS vs commercial; commercial's disadvantage is it's optimized for short, cheap, & sweet wheres NASA is expensive yet far-reaching.
7) Maybe favoring no; ARM needs to reroute itself to Mars to prove its worth.
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Offline jgoldader

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In the end, this whole mission is like the episode of MASH where Fr. Mulcahey spent the whole summer growing corn so the base could have corn on the cob, and the chef turned it into creamed corn.  Sending humans on a months-long mission to to an asteroid became sending humans on a days-long mission to a rock from an asteroid, because there's no money to develop deep-space hardware for people.

The engineers/managers did the best they could to have something better than Apollo 8 remixed, and this IS probably the best SLS can do without billions of dollars and a decade or so to develop a deep-space hab/etc.

If NASA has to do this-- and without this mission, SLS may just get cancelled, because there will be no need for humans on it until 2030+-- I'd rather have the rock come from one of Mars' moons, so at least there will be some connection with a long-term goal.  It's cheap Mars sample return, as there must be bits of Mars dust on both moons, swept up after impacts on Mars.

But I'm completely disillusioned by this whole episode.  Heartbroken isn't far from the truth.
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If Somehow SpaceX or whoever solves the Mars transport problem with MCT, ARM is one of the few somewhat HSF-related things that would still make sense.

It's not about Mars alone. It's also about protecting Earth while preparing and testing to go to Mars. This is a perfectly valid reason for doing it. But for some reason, people are blinded by the idea of something having more than one legitimate goal. It's the same thing you see when people are all "Why just trash Earth and go to space?"
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ARM didn't start as just a way to find something to do with SLS. MAYBE that's why it got traction (unsure of that), but that has never been the actual justification for it.
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Offline jgoldader

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ARM didn't start as just a way to find something to do with SLS. MAYBE that's why it got traction (unsure of that), but that has never been the actual justification for it.

Oh, agreed.  The Europa mission is very similar, but is finding a lot less resistance.  (Whether JPL can pull it off in the next 6-ish years with no bent metal yet is the only major question.). In both cases, ARM and Europa, there are scientifically worthy goals, but I don't know that either (especially ARM with a billion-dollar-plus price tag, just for the robotic part, yes?) would have survived the selection process and gained funding without being pulled forward by SLS.
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Offline Rocket Science

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ARM is a worthy scientific/engineering mission, however it doesn't "need" Orion/SLS and tell the "ugly giant bags of mostly water" to stay home... ;D
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Offline QuantumG

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ARM is a worthy scientific/engineering mission, however it doesn't "need" Orion/SLS and tell the "ugly giant bags of mostly water" to stay home... ;D

A dedicated sample return mission would be great science.. of course, if ARM was coming out of the science budget it'd be funded much lower. Personally, I think redirecting the exploration budget to ARM is a great thing.. but also why it probably will never happen.
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Offline Paul451

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of course, if ARM was coming out of the science budget it'd be funded much lower.

ARM's being funded?

Offline A_M_Swallow

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of course, if ARM was coming out of the science budget it'd be funded much lower.

ARM's being funded?

On January 27, 2016 ARRM design studies were commissioned by JPL. The NASA webpage does not mention money.
https://www.nasa.gov/feature/companies-selected-to-provide-early-design-work-for-asteroid-redirect-robotic-mission

Offline RocketGoBoom

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ARM didn't start as just a way to find something to do with SLS. MAYBE that's why it got traction (unsure of that), but that has never been the actual justification for it.

Oh, agreed.  The Europa mission is very similar, but is finding a lot less resistance.  (Whether JPL can pull it off in the next 6-ish years with no bent metal yet is the only major question.). In both cases, ARM and Europa, there are scientifically worthy goals, but I don't know that either (especially ARM with a billion-dollar-plus price tag, just for the robotic part, yes?) would have survived the selection process and gained funding without being pulled forward by SLS.

Does ARM actually require SLS?

Is there something massive or heavy about it makes SLS the only viable launch vehicle?
Why not Delta Heavy or Falcon Heavy?
« Last Edit: 02/20/2016 09:31 PM by RocketGoBoom »

Offline sdsds

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Does ARM actually require SLS?

Is there something massive or heavy about it makes SLS the only viable launch vehicle?
Why not Delta Heavy or Falcon Heavy?

Are you asking about ARM or ARRM?
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Does ARM actually require SLS?

Is there something massive or heavy about it makes SLS the only viable launch vehicle?
Why not Delta Heavy or Falcon Heavy?

Are you asking about ARM or ARRM?
From context, clearly ARRM, i.e. the robotic portion of ARM.

And heck, you could do the crewed portion of ARM with Falcon Heavy if you wanted to, too.
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In order to replicate the throw-capacity of SLS, you'd need to develop a dockable boost-stage. Ie, something you launch as a separate payload, which can dock with your separately launched main payload and then act as an upper-stage for the TLI or BEO burn. Similar to the common TMI Module from the Mars-DRA 5.0.¹

In this case, you'd want one that can launch as payload on most modern launchers (FH/Atlas/DIVH/Ariane/Vulcan/etc.) If you have such a launcher-agnostic, generic booster stage, you can use it to also do the manned portion of ARM.²

¹ Necessary because SLS can't perform either single-stack or dual-launch manned Mars missions.³ Which is weird since that's pretty much the entire only reason for a high $/kg heavy-lifter.

² You'd also want a mission-habitat-module with your long duration ECLSS, deep space comms, extra rad-shielding, etc. Essentially, a small DSH-type module. But a full DSH is being promoted for SLS/Orion missions anyway, including ARM.³

³ Which means both technologies are part of the intended SLS/Orion path already. But developing those two technologies renders SLS/Orion unnecessary.

Offline RocketGoBoom

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http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/02/former-nasa-chief-on-us-space-policy-no-vision-no-plan-no-budget/

The Republican chairman of the Science Committee, Lamar Smith of Texas, echoed those concerns in his comments, saying that under President Obama, NASA does not seem to be taking a serious approach to human exploration. The hearing comes at a critical time for NASA, now two months into the last year of President Obama’s second term and with a new administrator likely to replace Charles Bolden in 2017. Republicans in Congress have made it clear they do not favor the president’s plan to send astronauts to visit a fragment of an asteroid near the Moon and an eventual journey to Mars.

In fact, legislators appear to support returning to the Moon as a stepping stone en route to exploration deeper into the solar system. That was evident by the choice of witnesses for the hearing, including Griffin, who strongly called for a US-led international partnership to develop a permanent human presence on the Moon.


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The ARM may have been delayed further, a year it looks if this article is right: http://spacenews.com/nasa-slips-schedule-of-asteroid-redirect-mission/  Furthermore the first few crewed flights may not have anything to do with asteroids either it seems.

I'd interpret this as the first direct sign ARM is on the path to cancellation.  I'd only wish for cancellation as a last resort if they don't revise the mission, namely to target the Martian moons instead.  While there's the "Key Decision Point B" coming up, everyone knows it will come down to the next President either amending or slashing it...so everyone better start hoping Hilary favors Obama's space plans because Trump surely won't (he already declared he favors fixing potholes over helping NASA).
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Offline jgoldader

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so everyone better start hoping Hilary favors Obama's space plans because Trump surely won't (he already declared he favors fixing potholes over helping NASA).

Oh, Lord, please don't get that started...
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http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/asteroid-redirect-mission-delayed-one-year

Asteroid Redirect Mission Delayed One Year

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 07-Mar-2016
Updated: 07-Mar-2016 11:52 PM

President Obama's Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) will not meet the 2025 date he set for the program in 2010.  ARM Program Director Michele Gates told a NASA Advisory Council (NAC) committee on March 2 that launch of the robotic portion of the mission is now expected in 2021 and the crew portion in 2026.  Both are one year slips from earlier projected dates.

President Obama announced on April 15, 2010 that the next destination for human space exploration will be sending astronauts to an asteroid as a step to eventually sending them to Mars.  The mission has evolved since then.  The current concept calls for a robotic spacecraft to be sent to an asteroid where it will pick up a boulder from its surface and move the boulder to an orbit around the Moon.  Astronauts aboard an Orion spacecraft will examine the boulder and retrieve a sample for return to Earth.

The President set 2025 as the date by which the asteroid mission should be achieved.   NASA divides the mission into the Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission (ARRM) and Asteroid Redirect Crew Mission (ARCM).  ARRM must be launched several years before the ARCM in order for the robotic spacecraft to reach the asteroid, observe it to determine the best place on its surface to pluck a boulder, and capture the boulder and move it to lunar orbit so it is there when the astronauts arrive.

Speaking to the NAC Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Committee, Gates said that ARRM now will be launched in December 2021 and ARCM in December 2026.  A footnote to her chart says that the target dates are expected to continue to be "refined."   

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