Obama wanted to send astronauts to an asteroid by the year 2025 but NASA has come up with a plan that could make a visit to an asteroid even sooner. Instead of sending astronauts to an asteroid, they want to bring the giant space rock to Earth.
NASA scientists are planning to send a robotic spacecraft with a solar-electric propulsion system to a 21-foot wide asteroid. Once the spacecraft arrives, it would then capture the asteroid in a big bag and return it to an Earth orbit between our planet and the moon. Once the rock was in orbit, astronauts would be able to visit it.
A visit to the asteroid would mark the first time going beyond low earth orbit since the Apollo moon landing in 1972. Researches are saying that just the robotic mission will cost about $2.6 Billion and billions more for the human mission.
Scientists say that the right asteroid will need to be the same density as “a dried mudball”. The rock needs to be small enough and light enough for a spacecraft to capture and return. NASA hopes to confirm the mission’s viability by this summer and estimates that a mission to an asteroid could happen as soon as 2021.