NASA recently announced an official proposal worth $6 million for project proposals on asteroid capture project proposals in support of their Asteroid Redirect Mission. According to a NASA press statement, the organization expects to pay up to six million dollars on at least 25 proposals later this year. The space agency sees this as an important part of their plan to send a man to Mars and is thus seeking private proposals for research regarding advanced technology development.
In general, the goal is to produce new concepts and technologies that NASA can make use of during future missions such as the Mars mission. NASA is seeking proposals in five key areas relevant to the capture of asteroids in the mid-2020s. Those categories are: adapting commercial spacecraft buses, asteroid capture, national and international partnership opportunities, secondary payloads and sensor systems.
NASA‘s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, Bill Gerstenmaier, stated: “We are reaching out to seek new and innovative ideas as we extend the frontier of space exploration. To reach Mars, we would rely on new technologies and advanced capabilities proven through the Asteroid Initiative. We are looking forward to exciting ideas from outside NASA as well to help realize that vision.”
The proposed project ideas should concentrate on technologies that could be utilized to identify and select any potential deep space targets for capture by robotic spacecraft. These asteroid capture proposals should also focus on aiding both astronauts and NASA robots in moving them closer to earth–perhaps into a safe, stable orbit aroundthe moon--so that researchers could study them. The technology in question should also be capable of helping astronauts travel to the asteroid and retrieve samples.
Proposals must be submitted before May 5 and will be evaluated in part for their cost. Greg Williams, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for plans and policy, added that the selection process will build on a workshop that has already “generated hundreds of ideas for asteroid exploration last year.” The agency will announce and award the winners sometime around July 1.
What are your asteroid capture ideas? NASA wants to know.
(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)