Officially, NASA considers the near-Earth asteroid designated “2008 EVS” as its “reference target” for a robotic sampling mission scheduled in 2021 that would demonstrate the solar electric propulsion (SEP) technology it will need to take humans to Mars. Unofficially, Mars is a more likely target for a SEP demonstration, with launch a year later. As is so often the case lately with the U.S. space program, partisan politics will drive the ultimate decision. The ...

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