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Satnews Daily
July 21st, 2014

Space Systems/Loral + NASA—Attention To An Asteroid—Updated (Concept Study)

[SatNews] Space Systems/Loral (SSL) is one of the companies selected by NASA to study system concepts and key technologies for NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission, which is expected to be a key part of the agency’s path to sending humans to Mars.

SSL will conduct two studies; one that examines using MDA robotic technology for asteroid capture, and one that examines adapting commercial spacecraft for the Asteroid Redirect Vehicle. SSL and MDA will work together with Honeybee Robotics Spacecraft Mechanisms Corporation on the “Autonomous Boulder Liberation Equipment” study. The companies will collaborate to demonstrate the robotic placement and handling of excavation and capture tools to remove a boulder from the surface of an asteroid. Honeybee has more than two decades of experience developing planetary sampling and processing systems and the company's work is highly complementary to MDA robotics, which are in current use on the International Space Station and on the Mars Rovers.

Artistic rendition of the capture of an asteroid.

Image is courtesy of NASA.

For the “Asteroid Redirect Vehicle” study, SSL will examine how to adapt commercial spacecraft and will define system concepts that leverage SSL’s commercial bus, the SSL 1300. With 74 commercial satellites based on this platform currently in geostationary orbit, the bus provides a cost-effective and well-proven design that can be adapted to a variety of applications. SSL has already proven its capability to leverage its commercial platform in support of NASA initiatives with the propulsion system for NASA’s recent Lunar Atmosphere Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft, which successfully completed its mission earlier this year.
The SSL infosite is located at http://www.sslmda.com/

For additional information regarding NASA's Asteroid Initiative, please visit this infopage.