As part of NASA’s “Journey to Mars”, a robot will travel to an asteroid, grab a large boulder off of it, and then bring the boulder into orbit around the moon. Later, the Orion spacecraft will bring astronauts to visit the asteroid, giving NASA a chance to test out the equipment it hopes will get us to Mars and back.
The Asteroid Redirect Mission was supposed to launch toward the asteroid in 2020, but now that timeline is being pushed back by a year, SpaceNews reports. The extension will give the team more time to study the mission concept and develop the technologies to make it happen.
It will also delay plans to bring astronauts to the asteroid, originally scheduled for 2025.
The team is saying the delay won’t affect the cost of the mission, which is capped at $1.25 billion.