Asteroid Retrieval Initiative – NASA Plans to Capture & Explore an Asteroid

NASA Plans to Robotically Capture a Small Near Earth Asteroid

NASA’s FY2014 budget proposal includes a plan to robotically capture a small near-Earth asteroid and redirect it safely to the Earth-Moon system, where astronauts can visit and explore it. Image credit: NASA

NASA’s new budget proposal includes a plan to capture a small near-Earth asteroid so they can safely study and explore it. The below video shows a short animation of the Asteroid Retrieval Initiative.

NASA’s FY2014 budget proposal includes a plan to robotically capture a small near-Earth asteroid and redirect it safely to the Earth-Moon system, where astronauts can visit and explore it. The proposed mission would combine the efforts of three NASA mission directorates: Human Exploration and Operations, Science and Space Technology.

The astronauts will build on years of knowledge from the International Space Station, exploration mission concepts, scientific spacecraft and ground-based analog missions.

Washington — The following are statements from the associate administrators of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, Science Mission Directorate and Space Technology Mission Directorate on the administration’s budget request for the 2014 fiscal year.

From Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations William Gerstenmaier:

“The mission to find, capture and redirect an asteroid robotically, and then visit it with astronauts to study it and return samples takes advantage of expertise across all of NASA in an integrated approach to exploration. Along with the scientific research and technology demonstrations happening around the clock on the International Space Station that are teaching us how humans can live and work in space, this mission will give us valuable experience we need in deep space operations to send humans to more distant destinations in the solar system, including Mars. Through the balance of this fiscal year, we will work to define an affordable mission architecture. In Fiscal Year 2014, NASA will begin developing and testing prototype capture mechanisms and concepts for crew interactions with the asteroid.”

From Associate Administrator for Science John Grunsfeld:

“The crucial first step in this endeavor is to enhance our ongoing efforts to identify and characterize near-Earth objects for scientific investigation and to find potentially hazardous asteroids and targets appropriate for capture. The capture mission will be a highly visible and significant collaboration of robotic and human exploration in translunar space.”

From Associate Administrator for Space Technology Michael Gazarik:

“This mission accelerates our technology development activities in high-powered solar electric propulsion. The ambitious mission to rendezvous, capture and redirect a small asteroid to Earth-moon space could not be accomplished without solar electric propulsion technology. This technology also will support the commercial telecommunications and satellite industries, and is an essential step toward future NASA human and robotic exploration forays into deep space.”

The NASA budget and supporting information are available at:
http://www.nasa.gov/budget

Image: NASA

4 Comments on "Asteroid Retrieval Initiative – NASA Plans to Capture & Explore an Asteroid"

  1. David Barber | April 11, 2013 at 8:06 am | Reply

    I would be intrested in knowing what type of asteroid NASA are going to retreve, I also have an intrerst in Kmowing if all asteroid in the belt are made up of the same same rock, and if there is a way of telling the differance beteween individal asteroids,

  2. Very ambitious. So would that count as a second moon for Earth? Why envelope it? Wouldn’t a simple tow line be easier? Obviously, Dave, it’s going to be an awfully small asteroid, so undifferentiated due to early internal heating. There are two main types of meteorite but essentially, the asteroids are all thought to have formed as a group so one is pretty indicative of the rest AFAIK.

  3. The whole world is in turmoil. The water, the air, the food is all polluted. The people more n more poor, dying of malnutrition, loosing their houses, her jobs and their minds. No money for anything, and you are thinking in how to catch an Asteroid???? We have SERIOUS problems down here and that’s where the money should be spent HERE! Not out there. Finding other worlds to live?? To have another planet to destroy! We shouldn’t be allow to go ANYWHERE in space until this planet is back in shape! But again, who is creating the geoengineering that is destroying our planet and ourselves?????

  4. I think it is a collasal waste of taxpayers money just to buy a few votes with as in throwing the pigeons some crumbs to placate them..I think it would be much more important and sustaining with a resasonable payback for the dollar spent by actually building a real Space Station which would be used to build a real Space Exploration Vessel in Space powered by Nuclear Engines and or Solar Power with other power sources in reserve or power boosts. We could actually build a U.S.S. Enterprise with the the knowledge we have now without replicators or Ion fusion engines or whatever of course, but we could do it. I think this would be more beneficial to far more Americans than this current plan which is short lived and really of little use to the Country.

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