NASA Eyes Wild Plan to Drag Asteroid Near The Moon - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

NASA Eyes Wild Plan to Drag Asteroid Near The Moon

YAHOO.COM - Capturing a near-Earth asteroid and dragging it into orbit around the moon could help humanity put boots on Mars someday, proponents of the idea say.

NASA is considering a $2.6 billion asteroid-retrieval mission that could deliver a space rock to high lunar orbit by 2025 or so, New Scientist reported last week. The plan could help jump-start manned exploration of deep space, carving out a path to the Red Planet and perhaps even more far-flung destinations, its developers maintain.

"Experience gained via human expeditions to the small returned NEA would transfer directly to follow-on international expeditions beyond the Earth-moon system: to other near-Earth asteroids, [the Mars moons] Phobos and Deimos, Mars and potentially someday to the main asteroid belt," the mission concept team, which is based at the Keck Institute for Space Studies in California, wrote in a feasibility study of the plan last year.

Space agency officials confirm that NASA is indeed looking at the Keck proposal as a way to help extend humanity's footprint out into the solar system. But the assessment is still in its early stages, with nothing decided yet.

"There are many options — and many routes — being discussed on our way to the Red Planet," Bob Jacobs, deputy associate administrator for the Office of Communications at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., told SPACE.com via email. "NASA and the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are giving the study further review to determine its feasibility."

Enabling manned exploration of deep space

In the Keck plan, an unmanned probe would snag a 25-foot-wide (7 meters) near-Earth asteroid, then haul it back to lunar orbit for future study and exploration.

Its developers see the mission as a way for humanity to get a toehold beyond low-Earth orbit, allowing our species to hone techniques and acquire skills that manned missions to more distant destinations will require.

For example, the robotic mission would help develop the precision flying techniques demanded by a manned mission to a near-Earth asteroid. Further, study of the captured space rock could teach researchers how to efficiently extract water from asteroids — a resource that could be an off-Earth source of radiation shielding and rocket fuel for journeying spacecraft.

"Extraction of propellants, bulk shielding and life support fluids from this first captured asteroid could jump-start an entire space-based industry," the Keck team writes. "Our space capabilities would finally have caught up with the speculative attractions of using space resources in situ."

Up-close examination of a captured asteroid would also yield insights into the economic value of space rock resources and shed light on the best ways to deflect potentially dangerous asteroids away from Earth.

Overall, the potential benefits of the mission are huge, the Keck team says.

"Placing a NEA in lunar orbit would provide a new capability for human exploration not seen since Apollo," the report reads. "Such an achievement has the potential to inspire a nation. It would be mankind's first attempt at modifying the heavens to enable the permanent settlement of humans in space."

NASA's new spaceships

Human exploration of deep space beyond the moon is a NASA priority. In 2010, President Barack Obama directed the agency to get astronauts to a near-Earth asteroid by 2025, then on to the vicinity of the Red Planet by the mid-2030s.

To make all of this happen, NASA is developing a crew capsule called Orion and a huge rocket known as the Space Launch System. The Orion-SLS combo is slated to begin flying crews by 2021. The first unmanned Orion test flight is expected in 2017.

The space agency is also developing a new Space Exploration Vehicle for astronauts bound to explore a near-Earth asteroid. A prototype of the new vehicle, which could feature a rocket sled and "pogo stick" device for docking with an asteroid, could be tested at the International Space Station in 2017, project officials have said.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Utah man killed his wife on cruise because she wouldn't stop laughing at him

    Utah man killed his wife on cruise because she wouldn't stop laughing at him

    Thursday, July 27 2017 7:44 PM EDT2017-07-27 23:44:32 GMT

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Authorities say a Utah man killed his wife aboard a cruise ship and told an acquaintance who later walked into the blood-splattered cabin that he did it because she wouldn't stop laughing at him. A criminal complaint by an FBI special agent says Kenneth Manzanares was found in the couple's room on the Emerald Princess on Tuesday night with blood on his hands and clothes and blood spread throughout the cabin.

    >>

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Authorities say a Utah man killed his wife aboard a cruise ship and told an acquaintance who later walked into the blood-splattered cabin that he did it because she wouldn't stop laughing at him. A criminal complaint by an FBI special agent says Kenneth Manzanares was found in the couple's room on the Emerald Princess on Tuesday night with blood on his hands and clothes and blood spread throughout the cabin.

    >>
  • One person killed after amusement park ride breaks off

    One person killed after amusement park ride breaks off

    Thursday, July 27 2017 11:16 AM EDT2017-07-27 15:16:08 GMT

    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio records show that inspections were up to date and a state permit had just been issued for the thrill ride that broke apart on the Ohio State Fair's opening day, killing one man and injuring seven other people.  The Department of Agriculture records provided Thursday to The Associated Press show pass...

    >>

    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio records show that inspections were up to date and a state permit had just been issued for the thrill ride that broke apart on the Ohio State Fair's opening day, killing one man and injuring seven other people.  The Department of Agriculture records provided Thursday to The Associated Press show pass...

    >>
  • Two-year-old girl airlifted to Sacred Heart after getting hit by car in parking lot

    Two-year-old girl airlifted to Sacred Heart after getting hit by car in parking lot

    Thursday, July 27 2017 3:30 PM EDT2017-07-27 19:30:36 GMT

    COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - A two-year-old girl from Coeur d'Alene is in critical but stable condition after getting hit by a vehicle in the parking lot of an apartment complex. The incident happened in the 600 block of W. Wilbur Avenue around 8:45pm.  When officers arrived on scene, life measures and CPR had already begun. Medical personnel with the Coeur d'Alene Fire Department arrived and immediately transported the girl to Kootenai Health.

    >>

    COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - A two-year-old girl from Coeur d'Alene is in critical but stable condition after getting hit by a vehicle in the parking lot of an apartment complex. The incident happened in the 600 block of W. Wilbur Avenue around 8:45pm.  When officers arrived on scene, life measures and CPR had already begun. Medical personnel with the Coeur d'Alene Fire Department arrived and immediately transported the girl to Kootenai Health.

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/