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It also wants to redirect large asteroids that may harm Earth

NASA is planning to capture both large and small asteroids for the purpose of studying them -- and also redirecting them if they happen to threaten mankind.

NASA's fiscal year 2014 budget proposal talks about catching near-Earth asteroids robotically and sending them to orbit in the Earth-moon system. That way, astronauts can safely travel to the asteroids and explore them.

According to this initiative, it will use both current and developing technology to move large, hazardous asteroids away from Earth and capture the smaller ones for exploration. Some of the current technology that will be used includes the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft.

NASA is preparing for an asteroid landing in other ways too, such as simulating the environment for astronauts. For instance, the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) launched 15 simulated asteroid missions in 2011 and 16 in 2012. These missions simulated various challenges astronauts would face when visiting an asteroid, such as how to collect samples, anchor to it and move around the surface.

Last week, The Space Studies Board and the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board held a joint meeting in Washington to discuss the future goals of human space exploration. The parties seemed torn between continuing on with an asteroid landing or planning another trip to the moon.

Al Carnesale of UCLA said there wasn't much enthusiasm for an asteroid landing since its initial announcement three years ago, but NASA Administrator Charles Bolden disagreed. 

“NASA will not take the lead on a human lunar mission. NASA is not going to the Moon with a human as a primary project probably in my lifetime," said Bolden. "And the reason is, we can only do so many things.”

Bolden believes NASA should stick to the plan of sending humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars by 2030. 

Source: Science Daily

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What a load of crap
By ROTFLCOPTER on 4/12/2013 2:13:33 PM , Rating: 2
This Bolden guy needs to wake up to the reality that an asteroid landing serves no meaningful purpose . What are we going to do when we land on an asteroid? Take a few samples, run a few tests? I'm sure there are some astrophysicists out there that would find the data beneficial, but what, if anything would this do for the rest of us?

At least a moon landing could work towards the creation of a base for future launches or resource gathering efforts. Hell, even a far more ambitious goal of landing a man on mars is better than this asteroid crap.

RE: What a load of crap
By ROTFLCOPTER on 4/12/2013 2:16:58 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, I'm also neglecting the advances in technology that could arise from the effort of an off-world base or long distance voyage.

RE: What a load of crap
By mjv.theory on 4/12/2013 2:54:26 PM , Rating: 2
Problem is that NASA have been forced to spend most of their budget on the Orion spacecraft (read: Boeing profits increasing project) and the Senate Launch System. Given the choice between $11 Billion to incumbent contractors for the SLS for 70 tonne lift capability at $1 Billion per flight and paying SpaceX $2.5 Billion for 140 tonne lift capability and $300 Million per flight they would probably have taken the latter choice. At the very least they would have pursued a technically better and more fiscally responsible design.

I'm all in favour of aiming for Mars and then coming back to the Moon later. Considering the effort required, the Moon doesn't really offer much in the way of a step towards further exploration, although it may be worthy of exploration in its own right. The only real advantages for the Moon are negligible comms delay and possibly reduced radiation risk. Going to an asteroid is basically "the only thing we can afford" option.

Just to put the cost of a 70 tonne lift SLS into perspective, for $11 Billion for SLS is equivalent to over 100 Falcon Heavy flights at 53+ tonnes each lifting 5300 tonnes to LEO, or Mars sample return, Moon missions, fuel depots, etc.. Without SLS, NASA has many options, with SLS it has very few.

RE: What a load of crap
By othercents on 4/12/2013 3:20:53 PM , Rating: 2
Given the choice between $11 Billion to incumbent contractors for the SLS for 70 tonne lift capability at $1 Billion per flight and paying SpaceX $2.5 Billion for 140 tonne lift capability and $300 Million per flight they would probably have taken the latter choice.

I think any reasonable person would have chosen the latter choice especially since now (after the fact) we know that SpaceX is a viable solution. However I never thought NASA was made of reasonable people and much less when they are controlled by Congress.

RE: What a load of crap
By Ammohunt on 4/12/2013 2:35:30 PM , Rating: 3
I agree moonbase first then all the BS pet projects of other scientists.

RE: What a load of crap
By Reclaimer77 on 4/12/2013 3:16:26 PM , Rating: 2
While studying asteroids can give us a glimpse of the early history of our solar system, I kinda agree. I don't see how this is a big priority. We could do a hundred or even a million asteroid landings before finding anything remotely interesting.

RE: What a load of crap
By xti on 4/12/2013 3:26:08 PM , Rating: 3
maybe there is some penis enlargement powder on there. YOU NEVER KNOW UNTIL YOU LOOK.

cheese would buy some tomorrow.

RE: What a load of crap
By ROTFLCOPTER on 4/12/2013 4:25:26 PM , Rating: 1
The could find the remains of a long dead asteroidian civilization and I'd still not give two hoots....

Even if that civilization had come up with an endowment ray...

Well, maybe a little hoot for the ray....for my cousin you see....

RE: What a load of crap
By HammerStrike on 4/12/2013 5:22:46 PM , Rating: 3
It's worth noting that it is believed many asteroids contain huge amounts of valuable resources in them. Capturing them and bringing them into near orbit would be the first step to (one day) commercial exploiting them. Granted, there are a lot of other issues that would need to be addressed before that type of technology would be of commercial use, but look at the moon missions - payoffs on that research and development took many decades to realize, but it was definitely there.

Perhaps if a viable extraction, refining and manufacturing process can be set up in near earth orbit, with the raw materials provided by asteroids, that would be the most cost effective way to create craft to explore the solar system, particularly if launch prices from Earth remain high.

Of course, the above is pure speculation, but many times the ultimate benefit of these projects is difficult to quantify at the beginning. At the very least, learning how to interact and change the trajectory of an asteroid, particularly a large one, has obvious practical applications. Hopefully we don't need to know how to do this for a while, but I'd rather know how do deflect a large inbound asteroid and not need to, then need to deflect a large inbound asteroid and not know how.

RE: What a load of crap
By Reclaimer77 on 4/12/2013 7:12:04 PM , Rating: 2
It's worth noting that it is believed many asteroids contain huge amounts of valuable resources in them.

Yes but most are just rock, or iron, or ice. Or a combination of. We would probably spend way more money just finding a worthwhile asteroid than anything we'd get out of it.

RE: What a load of crap
By MozeeToby on 4/13/2013 12:36:52 AM , Rating: 2
The funny thing about rock, iron, and ice is that they are cheap or worthless here on the ground, but ridiculously expensive to get in orbit. Iron obviously has uses. Most of the "rock" that makes up asteroids is actually nickel ore. Water can be used for life support or fuel. All things that would be enormously help to have in orbit if you wanted to explore the solar system.

And in fact, the amount of useful materials in the average asteroid make shipping things home not as ridiculous as they seem. An average asteroid has about as much nickel as has ever been mined in human history. Has billions of dollars in platinum and other precious metals. And in ores that make the richest mines on earth look like damp clay.

RE: What a load of crap
By Labotomizer on 4/14/2013 11:11:20 AM , Rating: 2
Not only that but the fact that practicing moving an asteroid is a pretty important thing to do. This would give us a way to defend in the case of a large asteroid was headed towards earth. We kind of need to practice.

Of course that leaves out the idea that an error in moving a 100 ton asteroid into earth orbit could be disastrous. There is that little problem. But overall I think the ability to maneuver an asteroid is far more beneficial. And if we can find asteroid that have viable fuel sources on them to park into orbit then it would make a better refueling and relaunch point than any moon base.

RE: What a load of crap
By TimberJon on 4/15/2013 11:59:33 AM , Rating: 2
"Rock Rats" series of novels by Ben Bova started out at about our time period, added a fusion rocket concept and in no time had mining-ship owning prospectors going out to the local belt to poke around and bring back promising rocks of all sizes.

It would be a huge boon to our natural resources. And if there was any kind of local base.. they would pay up for any rocks found that contained water or ice because they might also have usable oxygen. Haul precious metals to earth's orbit, and life support materials to the local base.

Tough to setup.. but kind of inevitable. Maybe only corps can file the rights to mine a belt but it could also create a ton of jobs.

RE: What a load of crap
By Flunk on 4/12/2013 5:59:46 PM , Rating: 2
For all we know we could crack open an asteroid full of gold or another substance that's rate on earth. Heck, the possibilities are nearly endless and the cost is a fraction of your idea. I personally would love then to send a manned mission to mars(you can get the money from the defense budget). But that doesn't mean this isn't a great idea.

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