NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission: A space rendezvous
NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission, the space agency’s initiative to capture a small piece of an asteroid and then bring it into lunar orbit, is off the concept phase and is turning it into reality.
NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot explains, a robotically controlled spacecraft will launch in 2020 and spend a couple of years traveling to a pre-designated asteroid.
NASA has already identified three possible targets for ARM’s boulder-plucking phase: the asteroids Itokawa, Bennu and 2008 EV5.
Once the robotic tug reaches the intended asteroid, it will spend up to 400 days at the rock to analyze its surface and choose the best chunk to take home.
Then, it will deploy a robotic arm and grab the boulder for a return trip.
Next comes the human exploration phase.
The unmanned spacecraft will then move the boulder into a stable orbit around the Moon.
That positioning will make it easy for astronauts to rendezvous with the boulder in 2025. – Rappler.com