Asteroid Redirect Mission


Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) is NASA’s first ever mission to identify, capture and relocate an asteroid to a stable orbit around the moon and send astronauts to return samples of it to Earth.


Orion Spacecraft Docks to the Asteroid Redirect Vehicle (ARV).


NASA is developing its first robotic mission to visit a large near-Earth asteroid, collect a multi-ton boulder from its surface and use it in an enhanced gravity tractor asteroid deflection demonstration.

The spacecraft will capture a boulder off of a large asteroid using a robotic arm. After an asteroid mass is collected, the spacecraft will redirect it to a stable orbit around the moon called a ‘Distant Retrograde Orbit’. Astronauts using NASA’s Orion spacecraft will be launched from a Space Launch System rocket to explore it and return with samples in the mid-2020s.

Asteroid Redirect Mission Timeline Picture

Asteroid Redirect Mission Timeline

This Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) is part of NASA’s plan to advance the new technologies and spaceflight experience needed for Mars Journeys.

The largest SEP system ever developed will be used to capture and redirect an asteroid. The Orion spacecraft will dock and operate with a SEP-powered spacecraft.

Mission Concepts

There were two options:

Option A: A robotic spacecraft would redirect an entire asteroid no more than ten meters across into a lunar orbit.
Option B: Capture a boulder and move it to Moon orbit.

Option B won out over the original ARM concept known as Option A.

Asteroid destination will be chosen in 2020.

ARM is scheduled to be launched towards the asteroid in December 2021.

Asteroid Redirect Vehicle (ARV) departs the asteroid picture

Asteroid Redirect Vehicle (ARV) departs the asteroid after capturing a boulder from its surface.

Solar Electric Propulsion

Using Solar Electric Propulsion technologies the ARM mission uses five to 10 times less propellant than conventional chemical propellant.

Solar electric propulsion uses electricity from solar arrays to create electromagnetic fields to accelerate and expel ions (charged atoms) to create a very low thrust with a very efficient use of propellant.

Solar Electric Propulsion Spacecraft Picture

Solar Electric Propulsion useful for future missions into deep space with larger payloads.


Asteroid Redirect Mission was originally proposed in 2010 as an alternative to the George W. Bush administration’s Constellation Program.

Did You Know?


NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission from NASA and World Spaceflight News (Kindle)

Asteroid Redirect Mission Links

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