In March of 2015, NASA announced that its Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) will entail a retrieval of a 4-meter boulder from an asteroid which will be placed in orbit around our moon. This mission will provide insight into a future journey to Mars. Costing approximately $1.25 billion USD plus launch costs, the initiative is expected to take place with initial launch slated for December 2020 and arrival at the selected asteroid two years later. NASA astronauts will follow up on the boulder and collect samples for analysis. ARM, which will use an unmanned robotic spacecraft to travel to the asteroid, was established in 2010 as a replacement for the long-delayed and over-budget Constellation Program. The likely candidate for the asteroid will be 2008 EV5.
Discovered in 2008, the 2008 EV5 is about 400 meters wide and was first observed by the Catalina Sky Survey. The asteroid takes 343 days to complete an orbit around the sun. Other front runners include Itokawa and Bennu – asteroids which are both 500 meters in width. The ultimate goal of ARM is to test the viability of technology and capabilities which are under consideration for a mission to Mars. The spacecraft will be equipped with a solar electronic propulsion system, using the sun’s energy to create thrust, which is more efficient and can carry a spacecraft further than strictly using conventional rocket fuel. In addition, ARM should give NASA more practice and data on navigating and maneuvering in space, particularly with the robot arm technology that will be used to grab the boulder.
During this mission, NASA will also undergo a practice deflection maneuver with the ultimate purpose of potentially diverting an asteroid which is on a collision course to Earth. The space agency will measure the trajectory of the impact on the asteroid and analyze its effects. Via our proprietary website ASAP Purchasing, ASAP Semiconductor is a leading supplier to a number of federal agencies such as NASA. Prospective customers can browse our inclusive inventory of hard-to-find obsolete and current aerospace parts at www.asap-purchasing.com
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