It would be the first time a celestial object has ever been moved by humans, a media report said.
The White House's Office of Science and technology will consider the $2.6 billion plan in the coming weeks as it prepares to set its space exploration agenda for the next decade.
A feasibility report prepared by NASA and California Institute of Technology (Caltech) scientists outlined how they would go about capturing the asteroid.
An 'asteroid capture capsule' would be attached to an old Atlas V rocket and directed the asteroid between the Earth and the Moon.
Once close, the asteroid capsule would release a 50 ft diameter bag that wrap around the spinning rock using drawstrings, the paper said.
The craft would then turn on its thrusters, using an estimated 300 kg of propellant, to stop the asteroid in its tracks and tow it into a gravitationally neutral spot.
From here space explorers would have a stationary base from which to launch trips deeper into space.
“The idea of exploiting the natural resources of asteroids dates back over a hundred years, but only now has the technology become available to make this idea a reality,” the report said.
“The feasibility is enabled by three key developments: the ability to discover and characterise an adequate number of sufficiently small near-Earth asteroids for capture and return; the ability to implement sufficiently powerful solar electric propulsion systems to enable transportation of the captured asteroid; and the proposed human presence in cislunar space in the 2020s enabling exploration and exploitation of the returned asteroid,” it said.
NASA declined to comment on the project because it said it was in negotiations with the White House, but it is believed that technology would make it possible within 10-12 years.
The technology would also open up the possibility of mining other asteroids for their metals and minerals.
Some are full of iron which could be used for in the making of new space stations, others are made up of water which could be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen to make fuel.
When the rocket leaves the asteroid, will its reaction dislodge the asteroid?
I couldn't get the reply form to work so I put it here. Once away from low Earth orbit radiation becomes a major problem. A thick wall of asteroid (metal, rock, whatever) solves that. 3 meters would lower it to less than what you get on Earth. BTW the article mentions iron, it overlooks asteroidal precious metals (gold, platinum, etc.) worth vast sums.
Please provide a link to prove NASA scientists are planning to capture an asteroid. There is none.
Where did this story come from? Nasa has said nothing about it.
It sounds interesting, but as you can simply park in orbit a rocket, or something a rocket brings up with it, and as the asteroid won't have enough gravity to allow astronauts to walk around on it, what is the advantage of incorporating an asteroid into an orbital fuel/supply dump? This isn't a critical comment, just an honest question? I'm assuming there is a valid reason.
To get to mars requires a massive amount of fuel. The more the amount of fuel(mass), the harder it is to escape the earth's gravity, which in turn requires additional consumption of fuel (hence increasing costs). Having to travel a shorter distance to the moon(where this asteroid would be) needs much less fuel and hence reduces the mass of the rocket, allowing it to escape earth easily. Now loading the remaining fuel on the asteroid would help to bypass the requirement of carrying the huge amount of fuel out of the gravity of the earth. Since the gravity of the asteroid would be much less, it wouldn't be that hard for the refueled rocket to escape it. This reduces costs greatly. I guess this asteroid would be useful for future expeditions too. So it would seem like a good investment.
The per pound cost of shoot up matter into space is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars simply by having a 5k ton object to work off of saves billions in fule costs, even if its inferior materials to work with, ie iorn vs stainless steel
Human Beings have always taken risks. Otherwise we would still be roaming in the African Savannah.
Great, so long as they do not miscalculate the gravitational forces. Just imagine! One small miscalculation, and the asteroid might rush towards the earth with the same fervor as a puppy running to greet its master. As soon as it lands on earth, all the preparations people did for the Mayan calendar can come true.
Isn't it "playing" with Nature
So is digging earth and cooking....wanna stop that?
It's amazing! They could calculate the exact weight '5,00,000 kg asteroid' out there in space! One day they might just move Earth to some other spot.
Thrilling and unbelievable.Beyond imagination.
There are lots of Calculations to be done before its actually implemented. Placing in the orbit between Moon and Earth would eventually have some gravitional effect on Earth. Tides may be caused in Earth coupled with effect of sun and moon. There is no fact about the asteroid. The asteroid might be emitting noxious gas which might be harmfully while landing there. The Ellipitical orbit should calculated accurately. If the ellipitical orbit chosen when it is placed in the Orbit gives higher ground of probability for another asteroid to impact on it. Many probabilities have to be taken care even one misses out its gonna be tradegy at our Mother Earth.
Brilliant! This is what made the US no.1 super power. This is how mankind makes giant leaps... kudos to the NASA for even thinking that they can capture the asteroid. Aim high, nothing is impossible for humans.