PALO ALTO, CA - Space Systems/Loral (SSL) announced that it was 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 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."
SSL's "Autonomous Boulder Liberation Equipment" study will demonstrate robotic arms for placement and handling of pneumatic excavation tools, boulder jacking devices, and positive capture and restraint tools.
SSL will also examine how to adapt commercial spacecraft for the Asteroid Redirect Vehicle 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, it provides a very 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.
In a statement released last month, James Reuther, deputy associate administrator for Space Technology at NASA Headquarters in Washington said: "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."