NASA will indeed catch an Asteroid

Gerüchte darum gab's schon eine Weile, jetzt wurden sie bestätigt: Die NASA wird in ihrer nächsten größeren Mission einen 500-Tonnen Asteroiden einfangen, in einen Orbit um den Mond befördern und dann Astronauten da hoch schicken. Die Aktion ist noch nicht offiziell bekannt gegeben, NBC schreibt von einem offiziellen Sprecher des Weißen Hauses, der die Pläne anonym weitergegeben hat.

The asteroid retrieval mission is based on a scenario set out last year by a study group at the Keck Institute for Space Studies. NASA's revised scenario would launch a robotic probe toward a 500-ton, 7- to 10-meter-wide (25- to 33-foot-wide) asteroid in the 2017 time frame. The probe would capture the space rock in a bag in 2019, and then pull it to a stable orbit in the vicinity of the moon, using a next-generation solar electric propulsion system. That could reduce the travel time for asteroid-bound astronauts from a matter of months to just a few days. […]

He said the plan had been under discussion for months, but quickly came together after February's meteor blast over Russia. The meteor's breakup injured more than 1,000 people and sparked a worldwide sensation. It also sparked a series of congressional hearings about threats from space, during which Republicans as well as Democrats hinted that they would support more funding to counter asteroid threats.

White House confirms NASA's plan: Grab an asteroid, then focus on Mars (via Gizmo)