NASA wants to spend $105 million to capture a small asteroid

Planetary Resources talks about NASA’s plan to bag an asteroid. $105 Million has now been proposed for starting work on an asteroid retrieval and utilization mission in NASA’s official FY2014 budget.

NASA identified three areas for accelerated development:

* Asteroid observing efforts to identify target asteroids (twice current funding, 10x from a few years ago)

* Development of new technologies to encounter and capture the asteroid

* Demonstration of new propulsion technologies to power the mission to reposition the asteroid

In the three years since the President announced the goal of sending humans to an asteroid by 2025, this is the first major new activity specifically towards this goal. As audacious as it may seem, Planetary Resources feels that the proposed mission represents bold new thinking about developing our capabilities in space. It provides a number of opportunities for human and robotic exploration to work together, and also for the public and private sector to partner in furthering our presence in space.

Finding, capturing and repositioning a 500 ton asteroid certainly is a difficult, but achievable task. Knowing the exact size and mass of an asteroid millions of kilometers away is a challenge with any kind of instrument. If your plan is to grab and return one, you’ll want to make sure you can handle it once you get there! This is the reason why Planetary Resources is developing our Arkyd series of prospecting spacecraft – to send-out ahead of any mining activity and obtain the necessary answers. By doing this, we know what to expect, and obtain the information how to make best use of the next visit. In doing so, we’re developing the most sophisticated and cost-efficient way to explore and characterize near-Earth asteroids. Perhaps NASA’s asteroid target is one we’d be interested in taking a look at ourselves.

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