Last year, The Planetary Society announced a “conditional” endorsement of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (AMR), calling it an “intriguing idea” but arguing that it needed to know more details about the concept. “The Planetary Society is concerned that the detailed goals, costs, and implementation plan for this asteroid mission are not yet well defined,” it said in its May 2013 statement, also emphasizing the need for stable long-term funding for the program.
Earlier this week, the organization revisited that conditional endorsement and removed some, but not all, of those conditions. “In the past year, NASA has made commendable progress in developing its plans” for the ARM, the society said in its revised endorsement.
However, it added it’s still seeking “a rigorous and independent cost and technical evaluation” of ARM. “We worry that the ARM effort will prove a great deal more expensive than is currently being suggested,” the organization stated. “As has happened too often in the past, cost overruns lead to budgeting difficulties for years into the future.”
The Planetary Society is not alone is seeking additional details about the ARM. The NASA authorization bill passed by the House Science Committee last month also calls for a report on the ARM, calling for detailed cost and technical assessments of the proposed mission. The House bill does not explicitly require that report to be an independent assessment, though.