By Cole Hill

Never let it be said again that Michael Bay isn't a visionary; NASA's future looks a little bit more like "Armageddon" every day. The space agency is requesting $100 million in its 2014 budget for an ambitious new mission that would send a spacecraft to capture an asteroid and then lug it back to near-Earth orbit for exploration.

The grand plan was first advanced by a study conducted last year by the Keck Institute for Space Studies at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. The Keck plan proposed snagging a 25-foot-wide near-Earth asteroid and positioning it in "high lunar orbit" by 2025 - the same year President Barack Obama set as the deadline for a manned NASA mission to an asteroid.

"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," wrote the mission concept team in a feasibility study of the plan, according to

NASA officials have confirmed that they are seriously considering the Keck plan as a strategy for extending humanity's reach into the depths of the cosmos, and expanding our footprint beyond lunar orbit. However, they temper their interest, noting that the plan is still in early development stages.

"There are many options - and many routes - being discussed on our way to the Red Planet," said Bob Jacobs, deputy associate administrator for the Office of Communications at NASA Headquarters, according to The Huffington Post. "NASA and the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are giving the study further review to determine its feasibility."

With an overall cost of $2.6 billion, NASA says the mission would examine the feasibility and financial value of extracting resources such as water and fuel from asteroids, something the agency hopes would lead to establishing in-space refueling for spacecraft and could create an "off-Earth source of radiation shielding."

"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 wrote. "Our space capabilities would finally have caught up with the speculative attractions of using space resources in situ."

Scientists believe the potential benefits of the mission are auspicious enough to convince even the most jaded cynics of space exploration.

"Placing a NEA in lunar orbit would provide a new capability for human exploration not seen since Apollo," the researchers wrote. "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."


Other Popular Articles
Order by: 
Per page: 
  • There are no comments yet
The Social Network Buzz - Comment using your Facebook, AOL, Hotmail or Yahoo! account
The Black Vault Owner/Operator
03.30.2013 (508 days ago)
Main Space
0 Subscribers
All News by Administrator
Share This Article
0 votes
Related News
NASA’s Space Launch System, or SLS, will be the most powerful rocket in history.
Main Space
48 days ago · From Administrator
A newly discovered planet in a binary star system located 3,000 light-years from Earth
Main Space
48 days ago · From Administrator
Researchers have discovered a fossilized space rock that stands out against anything seen before.
Main Space
50 days ago · From Administrator
Scientists analyzing data from NASA’s Cassini mission have firm evidence the ocean inside Saturn's largest moon, Titan, might be as salty as the Earth's Dead Sea.
Main Space
50 days ago · From Administrator
Humans doing difficult, repetitive tasks or those who need assistance with movement may soon get a helping hand
Main Space
55 days ago · From Administrator
Ambitious Asteroid-Capture Mission Proposed In NASA 2014 Budget