NASA’s FY2014 budget proposal includes a plan to robotically capture a small near-Earth asteroid and redirect it safely to a stable lunar orbit 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 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.” –Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations William Gerstenmaier
“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.” –Associate Administrator for Science John Grunsfeld
“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.” –Associate Administrator for Space Technology Michael Gazarik
Posted by: Soderman/NLSI Staff