NASA To Receive $100m Budget For Asteroid Capture
According to U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, it is highly likely that NASA will be granted its desired $100 million budget for the launch of an Asteroid Capture mission.
The ambitious mission will see a near-Earth asteroid captured and dragged into a stable orbit of Earth's moon. While the first stage will be carried out by a robotic unmanned craft, it is hoped that eventually a team of astronauts will be sent out to investigate the object.
Though the capture of an asteroid will be a landmark in itself, it is the subsequent learnings and developments that are hoped to be NASA's next landmark achievement. Senator Nelson confirmed this when speaking in Orlando recently, revealing that "The plan combines the science of mining an asteroid, along with developing ways to deflect one, along with providing a place to develop ways we can go to Mars.
As expected, many have said that President Obama should find better uses for the $100m in his 2014 federal budget request, but the benefits of funding such a program are extremely exciting. As Nelson alluded to, the project will not end with the capture of the asteroid, it will merely be the start of a new wave of learning for the space agency, a wave that could result in ambitious missions beyond the moon and advances in asteroid mining.
Following the launch and successful capture of an asteroid, it is hoped that a manned mission will be sent to the object by the year 2021. Once there, the astronauts will gain significant insights into how operations can be carried out on objects with almost nonexistent gravitational forces. But if the agency are to be successful in reaching this goal, it will take a considerably larger sum of money than the initial $100m expected to be granted by President Obama next week.
So what do you think? Is this mission going to usher in a new age for NASA and human space exploration, or are there other areas that would yield better results?