NASA releases animation of mission to capture asteroid
TORONTO – Heading to an asteroid to mine for minerals may no longer be relegated to science fiction. NASA has created an asteroid mission concept that would help engineers come up with ideas to get humans to asteroids to conduct research.
Asteroids are rocky bodies left over from the formation of our solar system. They are smaller than planets and have no atmosphere.
In April, President Barak Obama unveiled its 2014 budget, earmarking $105 million to jumpstart a mission to an asteroid.
On Thursday, the space agency released a video with their initial concept.
In the video, an Orion spacecraft — which is currently in the testing phases — uses the gravity of the moon to swing around and propel it faster toward the target asteroid. In the simulation, an earlier remote satellite-capturing system is already at the asteroid and has captured it in a type of enclosure like a garbage bag.
Though much larger, the Orion spacecraft is reminiscent of the modules used in the Apollo launches to the moon.