Asteroid Grand Challenge First Round Reviews Complete
August 1, 2013

NASA Review Of Asteroid Redirect Mission Complete

April Flowers for - Your Universe Online

The first step toward NASA's mission to find and capture a near-Earth asteroid, redirect it to a stable Earth-lunar orbit, and send humans to examine it, has been completed.

On Tuesday, a mission formulation review brought together NASA leaders from around the US to examine internal studies proposing multiple concepts and alternatives for each phase of the asteroid mission in preparation for fiscal year 2014. Technical and programmatic aspects of the mission were assessed by the review.

"At this meeting, we engaged in the critically important work of examining initial concepts to meet the goal of asteroid retrieval and exploration," said NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot, who chaired the review at the agency's headquarters in Washington. "The agency's science, technology and human exploration teams are working together to better understand near Earth asteroids, including ones potentially hazardous to our planet; demonstrate new technologies; and to send humans farther from home than ever before. I was extremely proud of the teams and the progress they have made so far. I look forward to integrating the inputs as we develop the mission concept further."

Another topic of conversation at the review was the over 400 responses received to the recent request for information (RFI). Industry, universities and public individuals offered ideas for the upcoming asteroid initiative and Grand Challenge, which are being evaluated by NASA. As redOrbit reported earlier this week, the majority of the submitted ideas concerned the five mission components of the asteroid redirect, with a small portion concerning areas relevant to the Asteroid Grand Challenge.

Now that the mission formulation review is completed, the agency officials will begin integrating the most highly-rated concepts into an asteroid mission baseline. This baseline concept will be further developed in 2014.

President Obama's fiscal year 2014 budget request for NASA includes funding for the asteroid redirect mission, which leverages the agency's progress on its Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft and cutting-edge technology development. This mission is a major step forward for NASA's strategy to send humans to Mars in the 2030s.