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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

NASA to Get $100 Million for Asteroid-Capture Mission, Senator Says

• http://www.space.com, by Mike Wall
 The $100 million will probably be part of President Barack Obama's federal budget request for 2014, which is expected to be released next week, Nelson (D-FL) said. The money is intended to get the ball rolling on the asteroid-retrieval project, which also aims to send astronauts out to the captured space rock in 2021.
 
"This is part of what will be a much broader program," Nelson said Friday (April 5), during a visit to Orlando. "The plan combines the science of mining an asteroid, along with developing ways to deflect one, along with providing a place to develop ways we can go to Mars."
 
NASA's plan involves catching a near-Earth asteroid (NEA) with a robotic spacecraft, then towing the space rock to a stable lunar orbit, Nelson said. Astronauts would then be sent to the asteroid in 2021 using NASA's Orion capsule and Space Launch System rocket, both of which are in development.
 
The idea is similar to one proposed last year by researchers based at Caltech's Keck Institute for Space Studies in Pasadena.

"Experience gained via human expeditions to the small returned NEA would transfer directly to follow-on international expeditions beyond the Earth-moon system: to other near-Earth asteroids, [the Mars moons] Phobos and Deimos, Mars and potentially someday to the main asteroid belt," the Keck team wrote in a feasibility study of their plan.

 
 
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