Asteroid Retrieval and Utilization
The Asteroid Retrieval and Utilization (ARU) mission, also known as the Asteroid Initiative, is a potential future space mission proposed by NASA. Still in the early stages of planning and development, the ARU is a mission to bring a small near-Earth asteroid into lunar orbit, where it could be further analyzed both by unmanned craft and by a future manned mission. NASA hopes to complete the mission, which may take anywhere from six to ten years, in time to accomplish its stated goal of landing humans on an asteroid by 2025.
The Asteroid Retrieval and Utilization mission, excluding any manned missions to an asteroid which it may enable, is predicted by a Keck Institute for Space Studies study to cost about $2.6 billion, of which $105 million has been proposed for 2014. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has stated that: "This mission represents an unprecedented technological feat that will lead to new scientific discoveries and technological capabilities and help protect our home planet."
The spacecraft for the ARU mission, which is as yet unnamed, would be built with a large, 15-metre (50 ft) capture bag, containing a small asteroid with a diameter of about 8.2 metres (27 ft). The spacecraft would be equipped with Hall-effect ion thrusters for propulsion, which fire at low acceleration but can fire for many years to move the spacecraft at high speed. These engines would be powered by ring-shaped solar panels.
Once launched from its Atlas V rocket, the spacecraft used for the mission would slowly spiral out of Earth orbit for about two years. Using a gravitational slingshot, it would then spend another two years going to the target asteroid, arriving there in 2019. If the Asteroid Retrieval and Utilization mission and the Space Launch System are both completed on schedule, a manned mission to the asteroid brought to lunar orbit could be launched as early as 2021.
- Wall, Mike (April 10, 2013). "Inside NASA's Plan to Catch an Asteroid (Bruce Willis Not Required)". Space.com. TechMediaNetwork. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
- Tate, Karl (April 10, 2013). "How to Catch an Asteroid: NASA Mission Explained (Infographic)". Space.com. TechMediaNetwork. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
- John Brophy, Fred Culick, Louis Friedman and al (12 april 2012). "Asteroid Retrieval Feasibility Study". Keck Institute for Space Studies, California Institute of Technology, Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
- Malik, Tariq (April 10, 2013). "Obama Seeks $17.7 Billion for NASA to Lasso Asteroid, Explore Space". Space.com. TechMediaNetwork. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
- Atkinson, Nancy (April 10, 2013). "NASA Explains Their New Asteroid Retrieval Mission". UniverseToday. Universe Today. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
- Office of Bill Nelson (April 5, 2013). "NASA has plan to capture an asteroid and tow it to the moon". billnelson.senate.gov. Office of Bill Nelson, U. S. Senator from Florida. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Asteroid Capture Mission.|
- NASA press release on Asteroid Retrieval and Exploitation mission
- NASA 2014 budget proposal with details on ARU mission
- Video - Animation: Asteroid Redirect Mission, may 2013, 4 min
- Video - Asteroid Redirect Mission Concept Animation, august 2013, 4min