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NASA taps Space Systems/Loral for asteriod mission redirect program study

NASA has commissioned Space Systems/Loral to conduct studies on technology for redirecting asteroids into a lunar orbit for analysis that could benefit future manned space missions.
By Richard Tomkins   |   July 18, 2014 at 12:19 PM

PALO ALTO, Calif., July 18 (UPI) -- Space Systems/Loral reports it has been chosen by NASA to study system concepts and technologies for the NASA Asteroid Redirect Mission.

The value of the contract, of which SSL is one of a number of companies receiving it, was not disclosed.

The Asteroid Redirect Mission to bring small asteroids near Earth into a lunar orbit for analysis by manned and unmanned aircraft. The information obtained would be valuable to future space missions, including manned flight to the planet Mars.

SSL, a provider of commercial satellites, said it will conduct two studies under the award. One, the Autonomous Boulder Liberation Equipment study will demonstrate using robotic arms for the placement and handling of pneumatic excavation tools, boulder jacking devices, and positive capture and restraint tools.

The second study involves adapting commercial spacecraft for the mission's Asteroid Redirect Vehicle, defining system concepts that leverage SSL's commercial bus, the SSL 1300.

"SSL is committed to helping NASA leverage the value of commercial partnerships," said John Celli, president of SSL. "The Asteroid Redirect Mission is an excellent example of how we can bring together SSL's commercial bus and MDA robotics technology in support of NASA programs."

NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Technology James Reuther said recently that by investing in these studies, "NASA will gain valuable insight into affordable ways to perform the Asteroid Redirect Mission while also advancing technologies needed to drive future exploration missions."

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