Asteroid Redirect Mission: robotic collaboration between NASA and ASI
NASA and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) have agreed to carry out a joint study for a possible future collaboration in the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), to launch a robotic spacecraft on an asteroid followed by a human exploration mission.
“The Italian Space Agency – explained the ASI President Roberto Battiston – follows the ARM programme with great interest. In fact, it has relevant scientific implications in terms of possible threats by asteroids and will allow to develop new technologies to control the risk for possible impact. Moreover, the commercial use of mineral resources of asteroids is a driver for the development of space economy, which can introduce new companies and skills in the space sector”.
The NASA Asteroid Redirect Mission, which is still in the definition stage, is divided into two phases: in the first phase, a robotic spacecraft propelled by solar electric propulsion is expected to reach a near-Earth asteroid in order to collect a massive boulder and redirect it into a stable orbit around the Moon; in the second phase, a manned mission will explore the asteroid mass near the Moon to investigate and collect samples to bring to the Earth. The launch of the ARM robotic mission is scheduled for 2021.