NASA has published a new plan for implementing mission Redirect Asteroid Mission (ARM), according to which in its manned flight will take place until 2026.
From the end of 2012, NASA analyzes the feasibility of the mission that send a small asteroid or a Boulder from asteroids to the high moon orbit. The Mission has received the name of Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) and would consist of two parts: an unmanned, in which the probe boils down a boulder weighing around 20 tonnes of the high orbit moon and crew (with the use of the capsule MPCV Orion), in which astronauts retrieve samples of the stone.
Initially it was proposed to start unmanned mission to 2017.
Then, by 2015, NASA was analyzing various flight configurations and identify technologies that would expand before carrying out the Mission of the ARM. In March, the Agency decided on the selection of the option part of the unmanned, which will capture and will transport a Boulder with a diameter of up to 10 meters from the surface of another.
NASA considers ARM for an important part of the preparations for the manned expedition to Mars-that is, to its parent in the solar system exploration strategy called the Flexible Path. However, the same ARM was met with a mixed reception on the part of the scientific community. Critics of the alleged NASA no links with the Flexible Path, a high level of complexity and likely high cost of the mission.
In the circle of critics are also a lot of politicians sitting in scientific committees of Congress.
In this year’s discussions on the NASA budget for fiscal year 2017 appeared related funding four ambitious projects, however, is not among them. For now, NASA as yet working on the ARM, as it has not received new offers. The earliest you can expect around September this year.
The current mission plan ARM provides start unmanned part in 2021. Start manned mission would follow in 2026 year aboard rockets SLS. This means about five years delays relative to the initial plan. At the moment it is not known yet what designation (Exploration Mission) will receive the flight. NASA currently plans to first manned mission (marked with the number 2) in 2021, but recent financial reports suggest a high risk of delay it by up to two years. In this case, the part of the manned mission ARM will probably be third or fourth manned mission.
If indeed it comes to cancel the mission ARM, then probably NASA will focus mainly on the area of the moon. There are already proposals put on a high orbit around the Silver Globe module for long-term manned mission.
American companies also are ongoing development projects concerning the habitats on the basis of contracts with NASA. In the background is played also a discussion, initiated by the new Director of the ESA, proposing the creation of a “Moon Village”, which is a small international base on the moon. If Europe and the United States jointly decide on this project, then it will be the first “haven” on the way to Mars.
It is added that, in the current configuration of the American capsule MPCV Orion is equipped with European service module. This collaboration between NASA and ESA on the issue of exploration may become even more strengthen.