NASA has a daring plan to capture an asteroid weighing up to 500 tons and put it into orbit around the Moon.
According to U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), the latest version of the federal budget includes $100 million earmarked for NASA’s asteroid-retrieval project. The plan calls for an automated vehicle to intercept an asteroid as it passes through our system and then maneuver it into an orbit around the Moon. Once there scientists will begin to study it to determine if there would be any way to stop other asteroids that could pose a threat to the planet.
While the final project will end up costing an estimated $2.6 billion, this first $100 million will be used to identify a suitable candidate to be captured. Once in orbit, astronauts would be sent to study the rock in 2021.
“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,” Nelson said on Friday.
As with any item in a budget it could be deleted at any time before it is signed into law, but it is looking fairly likely that NASA is going to at least study the possibility of capturing an asteroid.