There are indications that NASA's next budget will include $100 million for a new asteroid mission.
According to press reports, a large chunk of the budget will go towards a mission that will see a spacecraft being sent out to capture an asteroid and bring it back so that it can become the target of a future manned mission. Such a concept was first proposed last year by the Keck Institute for Space Studies which outlined a plan to haul a 7m-wide asteroid to within high lunar orbit by the year 2025.
The asteroid retrieval mission is one of several ideas being considered by NASA as a stepping stone towards an eventual manned mission to Mars. "There are many options - and many routes - being discussed on our way to the Red Planet," said NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs. "NASA and the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are giving the study further review to determine its feasibility."
"NASA's budget request for the 2014 fiscal year may include plans for an ambitious mission to send a robotic probe into deep space, capture an asteroid and haul it back within the reach of astronaut explorers, according to a press report."
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