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NASA considers plan to capture asteroid

Researchers outlined a mission to tow an asteroid into lunar orbit
Researchers outlined a mission to tow an asteroid into lunar orbit

Staff writers

January 7, 2013 — There are reports that NASA is considering to capture an asteroid and drag it into the moon's orbit.

Researchers at the Keck Institute for Space Studies in California have outlined a mission to build a robotic spacecraft that will be sent into deep space to grab an asteroid and put it in a high orbit around the moon. 

The idea behind the proposal is to bring an asteroid close to Earth for easy study and visits by astronauts. 

If the asteroid is placed in orbit around the moon, a crewed space craft could engage with it without the hazards or expense of a deep space mission.

The Keck team's vision is to launch a slow-moving spacecraft propelled by solar-heated ions, which would propel itself out to a target asteroid. The robot would catch the asteroid in a large bag and tow it back into lunar orbit. 

NASA is reportedly giving serious consideration to the project, which if implemented, could be completed by the 2020s.

The total cost is estimated to be roughly $2.6 billion.

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