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NASA Previews Its Asteroid-Capturing Mission

NASA plans to bag and tag an honest-to-goodness, real-life asteroid and bring it back to Earth for experiments.

NASA is planning an elaborate space mission by 2021 that will see a rocket zip out to an asteroid, capture it, and then bring it close to Earth. When it is safely in orbit near home, scientists can study it and thus plan Mars missions—as well as anti-collision systems if an asteroid impact threatens Earth.

NASA has set aside about $100 million for the plan in its next budget, and estimates the final cost will be less than the original figure of about $2.65 billion. Asteroid studies are important given the buzz about asteroid mining companies. Russia's near-miss with a meteor recently highlighted the importance of better understanding the composition of space rocks.

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  • GSP

    Why not go one level further and hitch a ride on an asteroid to use it as an intra-galaxy vehicle?  Catch up to it, inhabit it and then leave when arriving at the destination, saving a lot of energy.  Like a bus to another planet.  Trouble is that you might not be sure about the return trip, so an unmanned craft and gear is probably the way to go about this in the foreseeable future.