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NASA postpones decision on asteroid mission design
Posted: Thu, Dec 18, 2014, 7:50 AM ET (1250 GMT)
Asteroid capture illustration (Rick Sternbach/KISS) NASA has pushed back a decision on what option it will choose for its planned Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), asking teams at the agency to study additional issues about the two proposed concepts. NASA associate administrator Robert Lightfoot said Wednesday that he originally planned to make a decision on which of two options for the mission to pursue after receiving briefings about them earlier this week. However, the two options were so closely matched that he asked teams to take the next two to three weeks to study them further, with a decision thus pushed back to January. In one option, a robotic spacecraft would redirect an entire asteroid, up to ten meters across, into orbit around the Moon. An alternative option would send a robotic spacecraft to a larger asteroid and grab a boulder a few meters across from its surface to send back to lunar orbit. Lightfoot suggested the second option tested more technologies that could be used for later exploration missions, but also carried with it additional cost and complexity.
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