The U.S. space agency NASA hopes to capture and
move an asteroid into orbit around the moon as part of plans to send
astronauts to an asteroid by 2025, NASA said Wednesday in its budget
The plan would eventually see a robotic craft capture and move a 500 ton asteroid and allow astronauts to visit the rock by as early as 2021 to collect samples.
Beginning next year with an initial 78-million-dollar budget request, NASA would work on identify possible asteroids for the mission and develop the technology to capture the asteroid.
The mission would help NASA to better understand near-Earth objects and find potential hazards in our solar system.
"This mission would develop the technologies and capabilities required if in the future there is a need to move a hazardous asteroid," the budget proposal released by the White House said.
An asteroid will also serve as an intermediate destination for astronauts as NASA works to develop plans to send humans to Mars.
"This mission represents an unprecedented technological feat that will lead to new scientific discoveries and technological capabilities and help protect our home planet," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said.
The Obama administration's plan to send astronauts to an asteroid and eventually to Mars have been the works since 2010, when it jettisoned plans developed under George W Bush to return to the moon.
Monday's announcement expands on an earlier planned asteroid visit that is a crucial part of an effort to develop a rocket with the power to visit a more distant object.
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