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Satellite Technology Feature Article
January 02, 2013

More NASA Asteroid Buzz after Criticism, Golden Spike Moon Announcement

By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor

Will NASA launch a daring unmanned mission to capture a small asteroid and put it in a parking orbit by the Moon for study and commercial exploitation? That’s the latest buzz circulating in the space trade press, one that seems to offer something for everyone at the agency and in private industry.

It’s hard to know what NASA can and can’t do with budget cuts continuing to loom over the agency, but there is a lot of off-the-record talk about mounting an unmanned mission to capture a 500,000 kilogram, seven meter in diameter near Earth asteroid (NEA) and move it to a neutral gravity point by the Moon for visits by NASA astronauts.

Talk of asteroid capture is fueled by an April 2012 “Asteroid Retrieval Feasibility Study” by the Keck Institute for Space Studies and available on-line. The Keck report says it should be possible to find and move a suitable asteroid to a lunar parking orbit by 2025 on a budget of $2.6 billion and requiring a single Atlas V class launch — making the venture both practical and affordable in the range of NASA’s mid-range missions.

Read more: More NASA Asteroid Buzz after Criticism, Golden Spike Moon Announcement — Satellite Spotlight.

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