One NASA plan calls for an unmanned craft to deploy an asteroid-nabbing apparatus before hauling the space rock closer to Earth. Once in lunar orbit, a crew would fly from Earth to take a closer look at the deep-space asteroid.
WASHINGTON (Florida Today) -- NASA's proposed fiscal 2014 budget includes $105 million to chase down asteroids.
space agency would use the money to help find meteors that could
threaten the Earth and to begin the process of locating a small asteroid
that could be brought back to moon's orbit for exploration by
President Barack Obama's 2014 spending plan, unveiled Wednesday, seeks a total $17.7 billion for NASA.
proposal for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 now heads to Congress
for review. It seeks about the same amount of money for NASA that the
president sought for fiscal 2013 and would fund the agency's top
priorities. Those include:
- Nearly $822 million for the Commercial Crew Program designed to
replace the space shuttle with a fleet of private-sector craft to ferry
astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
- $2.7 billion for space exploration. Most of that would be spent on a
Space Launch System consisting of a deep-space rocket longer than a
football field and an Orion multipurpose vehicle to carry astronauts to
an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars by the 2030s.
- $1.2 billion for planetary science. That includes money for the
planned November launch of the MAVEN robotic probe that will analyze the
Martian upper atmosphere, as well as funds to proceed with the 2020
launch of a rover that will land on Mars.
- $658 million to keep the James Webb Space Telescope on track for a
2018 launch. The money would be spent working on the telescope's mirrors
and scientific instruments. Construction of the $8 billion telescope,
the successor to the Hubble Telescope, has been beset by overruns and
- $834 million for Space and Flight Support, much of it for renovation of Kennedy Space Center's launch complex.
are two arguments for spending $105 million to chase asteroids. The
money would help with the agency's deep-space mission targeted for 2025
and it should help NASA address concerns about the threat meteors pose
$78 million of the money would be used to start a project to deploy a
robotic spacecraft to capture a near-Earth asteroid about seven to 10
meters in size and haul it into a stable orbit around the moon, NASA
Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr. said at a budget briefing.
The remaining $27 million would be used to expand efforts to identify
meteors that could threaten Earth and develop a plan to change their
More than 10,000 such objects
big enough to level a large city continually brush past the planet
undetected. In two very rare events on a single day in February, a small
asteroid passed within 17,000 miles of Earth and a meteor exploded over
Russia, injuring more than 1,000 people on the ground.
(asteroid) mission raises the bar for human exploration and discovery,
helps us protect our own planet, and brings us to closer to a human
mission to an asteroid," Bolden said.
The plan already has backing from Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL., one of NASA's most ardent champions in Congress.
The proposed $821 million for the Commercial Crew Program might be the toughest sell on Capitol Hill.
The White House asked for about $800 million for the program in fiscal 2013, but Congress approved $525 million.
That figure is expected to drop further under automatic sequestration budget cuts that took effect March 1.
decision not to fully fund NASA's fiscal 2014 request for the
Commercial Crew Program would delay the scheduled 2017 launch of a
crewed mission to the International Space Station, forcing NASA to rely
longer on the Russians for transport, Bolden said.
Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, and several other House members have
introduced a bipartisan bill directing the agency to develop a plan for
returning to the moon and establishing a human presence there.
moon is our nearest celestial body, taking only a matter of days to
reach," Posey said. "In order to explore deeper into space - to Mars and
beyond - a moon presence offers us the ability to develop and test
technologies to cope with the realities of operating on an