NASA Seeks Partner Payloads, Investigation Team Members For Asteroid Redirect Mission

Image Credit: NASA

Image Credit: NASA

September 7, 2016 – NASA is soliciting partnership opportunities for its Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), including concept studies, research and technology demonstrations as well as investigations to support an early component of the agency’s exploration missions to send humans farther into deep space than they have ever traveled on to the journey to Mars.

In its ARM Umbrella for Partnerships Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) published Sept. 6, 2016, NASA invites partner contributions to the robotic segment of ARM, which will be the first mission to collect a multi-ton boulder from an asteroid for human and robotic sampling and interaction, and demonstrate planetary defense on a hazardous-sized asteroid.

“While NASA is leading these missions, we believe there is much for others to contribute to, and learn from ARM,” said Dr. Michele Gates, Asteroid Redirect Mission Program Director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “There are possibilities to increase the benefits of this mission to our partners—science about our solar system’s formation, about asteroids as resources in space, about how we might defend Earth from an impending hazardous strike—and more we hope future partners will bring to the table through these opportunities.”

The BAA will remain open until August 2018, with additional opportunities to be announced at a future date. NASA plans to host a virtual industry forum Sept. 14, 2016 to provide more information about the BAA announced today. Details on the forum are available at:

Two specific opportunities are sought through two appendices also released today under the umbrella solicitation:

  • Appendix A: Hosted Payloads on Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission

  • Appendix B: ARM Investigation Team Phase 1

  • Through Appendix A, Hosted Payloads on ARRM, NASA solicits proposals for partnerships to provide hosted payloads on the robotic segment of the ARM. Specifically, NASA is seeking proposals to provide complete flight payloads for integration and hosting on the ARM robotic flight vehicle as well as associated ground support systems and flight operational support. The hosted payloads may include onboard instruments or small secondary payloads that are deployed from the ARM spacecraft to meet partner goals as well as NASA objectives. Investigations enabled could include activities such as to characterize the asteroid’s orbital and surface environments, determine the asteroid’s internal structure, measure the abundance and distribution of resources, provide complementary support for boulder selection and capture, provide remote imaging of the asteroid boulder capture operations, and other payload concepts that complement the primary objectives of the ARM.

    Through Appendix B, ARM Investigation Team Phase 1, NASA invites scientists, engineers, technologists, and other qualified and interested individuals to apply for membership on the Investigation Team (IT) for the ARM. The individuals selected to the team will lead or assist in the implementation of mission investigations focused on the following four main areas as they support the robotic and crewed segment objectives: science, planetary defense, asteroid resources and in-situ resource utilization (ISRU), and capability and technology demonstrations.

    The team will initially consist of members who will participate in the ARM robotic mission definition, design, development, and operations planning with the goal of maximizing the probability of mission success and the knowledge return from the mission. Members will provide expert knowledge and input in the planning of all aspects of the robotic mission, which includes spacecraft interfaces, requirements, outbound cruise and asteroid rendezvous, asteroid characterization, boulder selection and capture, planetary defense demonstration, and transfer to space around and beyond the moon, as well as design considerations as they relate to the crew segment of the Asteroid Redirect Mission.

    The IT will also work with the ARM crew project team to develop plans to explore the asteroid material returned to deep space, investigate the boulder after capture, and assist in spacewalk site selection, sample acquisition, and sample curation.

    Notices of Intent (NOIs) for Appendix A and B are due on October 6, 2016. NOIs are strongly encouraged, but are not required. Proposals for Appendix A and B are due on Nov. 3, 2016. Specific NOI and proposal submission requirements are explained in ARM-UP BAA Appendices A and B.

    ARM will demonstrate future Mars-level exploration missions closer to home and will fly a mission with technologies and real life operational constraints that we’ll encounter at the Red Planet. ARM will investigate for NASA and American industry dramatic enhancements of our systems, their reliability and our abilities for humans interacting with robotics beyond low-Earth orbit. For more information about the Asteroid Redirect Mission, visit: