Is NASA Planning an Asteroid-Capture Mission?

Artist impression of an asteroid capture mission. Credit: Rick Sternbach/Keck Institute for Space Studies

According to a story published recently in Aviation Week, NASA’s fiscal 2014 budget request will include $100 million for a robotic mission to capture a small asteroid and bring it in near proximity to our Moon.

The article states:

"Suggested last year by the Keck Institute for Space Studies at the California Institute of Technology, the idea has attracted favor at NASA and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. President Obama’s goal of sending astronauts to a near-Earth asteroid by 2025 can’t be done with foreseeable civil-space spending, the thinking goes. But by moving an asteroid to cislunar space — a high lunar orbit or the second Earth-Moon Lagrangian Point (EML2), above the Moon’s far side — it is conceivable that technically the deadline could be met. "

Read the full story here:

In December 2012 NASA Administer Charlie Bolden was quoted as saying, "when the President announced that an asteroid would be the next destination for NASA’s human spaceflight program, he did not say NASA had to fly all the way to an asteroid. What matters is the ability to put humans with an asteroid."

The Presidential budget request will be presented on April 10, 2013, several months later than usual due to the sequester mandated by Congress which implemented budget cuts for every government agency. The sequester will be removing approximately a billion dollars out of NASA’s overall funding.

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