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Jan 19, 2017 06:53 AM EST

NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission Gets Delayed

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NASA has delayed contracts as well as other awards for its Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). It was supposed to happen early this year but will be postponed by a few months.

Space News reported that the announcement was made last week at a meeting of NASA's Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG). This came after backers of a planned European asteroid mission confirmed that they were planning to scale down their mission after they were unsuccessful in winning funding from the European Space Agency (ESA).

ARM's program director at NASA, Michele Gates, said that the space agency has postponed the award of a contract for the spacecraft bus for the robotic part of the mission from this March until May. NASA has also delayed the awards of hosted payloads and the selection of the "investigation team" for the mission from April to June.

Gates admitted that the delay was connected to the fact that NASA is operating under a continuing resolution (CR) since the start of the 2017 fiscal year back in October. She has confirmed that they had to move their checkpoints for the awards due to the extended CR until Apr. 28.

This schedule would cause the delay with the awards until after a full-fledged appropriations bill for this year has been completed or when a decision to extend the CR for the rest of the fiscal year happens. It was noted that the delay does not affect the overall ARM schedule, especially its launch in 2021.

According to Space.com, Gates did not answer questions about the future of ARM. There are concerns that the program may be cancelled. However, Trump and his administration have not commented about the mission.

It was previously reported that NASA officials are not scared of a possible funding cut by the Trump administration. Trump's senior adviser, Stephen Miller, has said that Donald Trump is set in eliminating all climate change research done by NASA as part of the administration's efforts to crackdown "politicized science."

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