House Republicans are voicing renewed doubts about NASA’s plan to have astronauts study a piece of an asteroid – a turn of events that was expected for the transition to the Trump administration.
The Asteroid Redirect Mission, or ARM, was a trademark space initiative for President Barack Obama but has drawn GOP criticism for years. Critics saw the mission as an ill-planned detour on the road to the moon or Mars.
As currently conceived, the mission calls for a robotic spacecraft to visit a near-Earth asteroid, pull off a piece and bring it back to lunar orbit for study by a crew of astronauts in the mid-2020s.
NASA says the mission would serve as practice for a crewed journey to Mars and could serve as a test for diverting killer asteroids in the future. But leading House Republicans voiced skepticism about the mission’s utility in a letter sent to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden today.