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NASA wants to grab a small asteroid and tow it into orbit around the moon, as part of a long-range plan towards establishing permanent manned outposts in space, according to a US senator.
To get the project off the ground, US President Barack Obama will propose around $100 million for the US space agency in his 2014 budget, which he submits to Congress on Wednesday, Senator Bill Nelson said in a statement.
The Florida Democrat explained that this is part of what will be a much broader program.
The plan combines the science of mining an asteroid, along with developing ways to deflect one, along with providing a place to develop ways we can go to Mars.
It calls for a robotic-spacecraft to capture the asteroid and tow it back towards Earth, ultimately leaving it in a stable orbit around the moon, close enough that, within eight years, astronauts could head on over.
A similar plan was initially proposed in 2012 by experts at the California Institute of Technology, and the group, along with other top researchers in the field, have since prepared a detailed study into the project's feasibility.