It's Buzz Lightyear meets Woody.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is aiming to "lasso" a 500-ton asteroid in the next decade and relocate it to a spot firmly in orbit of the moon. The hope is to one day use the asteroid - which is currently not available, as far as we know, but presumably will be - as a base of operations for further exploration of not only the moon, but the more exciting rock known as Mars. The mission would require substantial political backing (for good or ill).
What does this all mean for the hoped-for private sector exploration of space? A great deal, apparently. New Hampshire's WMUR-TV reports:
The mission could open the door for private entrepreneurs like James Cameron and the founders of Google, who recently announced they want to mine platinum and gold from asteroids flying by Earth.
"Such an achievement has the potential to inspire a nation," reads a feasibility study of the $2.6 billion plan furnished by the Keck Institute for Space Studies. "It would be mankind's first attempt at modifying the heavens to enable the permanent settlement of humans in space."
Via WMUR-TV and NBC.
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@jamesmitchell Let's assume for a second that they could be extracting gold from asteroids in 10 years. The common man whose taxes funded all this will benefit how? The ultra rich will reap all the benefits and since trickle down doesn't make it down from Wall Street I have some serious doubts about it coming from the moon.
Lassoing an asteroid. Sounds like playing with fire. What if there's a slip up and we end up with it coming straight at us? Also, what if it orbits faster or slower than the moon? The moon will eventually get hit by it. Our lunar cycles affect the earth. Personally I think our moon should not be put in jeopardy. Lets just leave well enough alone. That asteroid is just over 22,000 mile from earth. Do we really want it any closer? I think not.
The moon will hit it? Seriously? I hope you're kidding. First let me explain, they said lasso, no be a catcher. You gotta go out a little ways find one, and push it into orbit around the moon. Secondly, we have things like the moon, specifically, that have been orbiting earth for couple billion years. Gravity is an exact thing, and im certain this would be comparable to a 5th grade math problem by todays astrophysicists. I mean its cool and stuff, and I wouldn't worry if I was you these are the people that got pretty good track records where it comes to be damn near perfect in calculations, if not exact. I just see better use of our tax dollars ATM.
@kirbstomp1 Lassoing it and moving it where ever they want to put it. How is that not the same as catching it and putting it where they want it. Have you not seen or read the news? They already know which asteroid they are wanting to go after and when.
So then at what point do we fund space exploration and similar programs? When it's too late? This is something that we have to look beyond the whole earth divided paradigm. Eventually we will have to go out into space to look for a new home. Granted it will hurt our pocket book (and it's not coming at the most opportune time either) but you can't really put a price tag on human advancement. Personally, I'd like future generations to have a new home to go to BEFORE we use up Earth.
@PoliticalSpice Thats the problem. Joe Schmoe can't even fathom the amount of money to put forward, let alone actually have it. Even Richie Rich's would be plunking down huge portions of their fortunes. Yes we have lots of problems but we can't let our over abundance of misfortunes hold us back.
Even though NASA is spear heading this, this is something that the USA shouldn't do alone. Space exploration needs to have global support through and through. Without it, the human race is destined to die.
When I think back to the extremely beneficial side effects of the Apollo program - not the least of which were improvements in our schools - I can't help but get excited about a long-term project like this one.
Besides, I'm pretty sure somebody somewhere still owes me a flying car, a jetpack and an escalator to the Moon. ;)
We as a county need goals, we do best when challenged. This sort of thing is what will help stabilize our future, the Earth is becoming to small a place given the human demands placed upon it. We must venture outward in order to tap into the nearly inexhaustible supply of raw material available to us if we can only get our hands on it. Investing in the future of clean energy and space exploration and it's utility is the next logical step in our advancement as a technological society. The old ways lead to stagnation and a slow dying.
If we need a goal why not build a national hi- speed rail line? Put tens of thousands back to work, imvest in our nations future infastructure, and finance it when interest rates are dirt cheap. Instead, let's lasso an astriod? That isn't a goal, more like a crack pot idea for a silly sci-fi movie!
@PoliticalSpice I heard ya each time (about the hi-speed rail). Have we watched too many Hollyweird movies? The money can/should be spent on a more feasible project (such as a hi-speed rail). At least a more feasible project can and will have a return for all, not just some rich guy who wants to "mine" some gold. People, please understand that this and other projects like these do nothing but distract you from the needed programs....LIKE A HIGH SPEED RAIL that will put people to work for building, maintenance....etc.
@PoliticalSpice Let's do both! And run the trains on renewable energy. Do a major overhaul of the electrical grid to an intelligent one. A little less war, and maybe we could do a lot of useful things. Science and technology will always push the envelope opening up new opportunities. The question is do we want to take advantage and invest in our future? I retired early because I invested wisely. I had a long term goal and I reached it, and it started with a vision of what could be.
@PoliticalSpice I agree to hi-speed rail. Other countries have it already, why can't we? This may sound negative, but we have many entrenched interests in this country with big purse strings who profit handsomely by the status quo, and resist any effort to upset their apple cart. They hinder progress in areas where the rest of us would benefit.
We just landed a rover on mars. Next step, putting a twin earth into orbit so we can have The united continents of America, and all move there....lol.
What they want to do is very feasible, just as simple as putting an Asteroid into orbit, except you gotta go catch one first. NASA needs to keep its progress of transferring tech to the private industry. Private companies profit, and what's to profit by having a moon around the moon? ha
Well I think we may be smart enough to capture it but I am not sure why you need to build a base on the asteroid instead of the planet itself. Maybe environmental conditions? A little more information would be helpful.
That thought crossed my mind also. We are gonna have to reach beyond this planet if we are going to survive as a species. A long term investment in space is prudent but ya gotta watch how you invest when funds are limited.
A base of operations outside Earth's gravity and consequential high escape velocity reduces the cost of doing business in space substantially. A huge amount of energy (fuel) is required to reach Earth orbit.
From my studies, the moon doesn't have an atmosphere, that's why its got all them damn craters. Nor does an asteroid. I would say that the asteroid would have very little gravity, which anyone living there would have to be tethered to the rock. My one and only logical thought would be to make a pseudo-atmosphere (better known as a clear balloon.) Which could stop mini-stroids from killing all humans living there, and allow us to study without mask seeing that we would be enclosed and breathing oxygen. It would also give protection from extreme temps and solar radiation all at once. It would be hard to do this to the moon. Just need a super giant balloon.
STUPID POLL! A nine line story about something NASA is considering, a four line quote by some rinky dink TV station that actually has no connection to the main story and we're asked an opinion of feasibility?
Polls like this one encourage people to believe they should interject their opinion into something they know nothing about. What's the point of asking? Why wouldn't the "I don't have enough information to make an intelligent vote" option be included.
I don't know enough about the subject to predict feasibility or worse yet a time frame to give an intelligent well thought out answer.
Having lived through NASAs entire manned mission history, I am convinced that NASA can do anything they set their minds to and we invest the money in.
@woodtick57 They closed Cape Canaveral, now we pay foreign countries to hitch rides. So instead of employing Americans to enact this fantasy we will enrich some other nation with our borrowed Chinese coin. Great..
@woodtick57 We are shutting down American jobs and giving them to foreign nations along with the money we borrow from China to pay for it. I'm only for it if 1) we have our own money to spend 2) we use American labor.
You know what irritates the hell out of me about this? As ALWAYS you have one side that is justifying the expense regardless of expense. "man has to look to the future". We totally disregard the past every stinking time "Iraq is not like Vietnam....well yeah they have sand instead of jungle but it's exactly like Nam, a war for profit" and we never EVER live in the present ("deficits don't matter unless of course it's not my party doing it) but we always live in the future. There is no goddamn future people if we don't stop spending billions and trillions on ever pie in the sky thing. My God how many people do you think this project could feed for 10 years? maybe every single person in America that goes to sleep hungry tonight?
Compared to everything else, NASA has very tiny budget already. How about instead of cutting back an already underfunded department, you could take a SLIVER from any mega-earning department *coughmilitarycough* and feed those hungry people with it. That said, I saw an article that said for every $1 spent on NASA, we got $14 back (or something to that effect). With that ratio, why not pump more money into it?
@Mbjhug Oh come on man. That's what EVERYONE says about what THEY WANT. "It's a tiny budget already". Ever hear of Senator Evertt Dirksen? He saw the coming spending crisis some 40 years ago and said " a million here and a million there and first thing you know we're talking real money".
Someone mentioned Social security and someone else fires back "yeah but that's a separate fund". It damn sure wasn't a separate fund while the Boomers money was being stolen. The average social security check of today is less than 700.00 a month and they have to pay for health care out of that. And you want to spend trillions on catching a damn rock so the ultra rich can mine it? Well let the ultra rich pay for that. jesus christ where does it stop? Prove that we get back 14.00 for every dollar spent? That's BS. Pure and simple. WE do not get back ANYTHING from the space program. Corporations do. They sell the same toilet to the Military for 1,500.00 a toilet. Like a guy in the bush needs a 1,500 dollar toilet developed by NASA for the space shuttle. PURE BS.
@Mbjhug People who support welfare say "it's only 3% of the budget". People who support foreign aid say "it's only 2% of the budget". People who support farm subsidies say "it's only 2% of the budget" Right there is 8% of the budget. 8% would get us out of debt. But you want to take it all from seniors right? My God you people are fiscally IRRESPONSIBLE.
Capturing a mineral-rich asteroid and putting into a safe orbit around the moon has absolutely nothing to do with anyone's god. This is science. As to being broke already: true that, but if we were smart we could pull quite a bit of funding from Defense and put it to good use here and there, including this project. The advances in science, the jobs created by this project, and the enormous boost to our collective morale all add up to a very good ROI.
Rockhound: "Wait! I know this one. This is where the coyote puts himself into a sling shot and straps on an ACME rocket." Harry: "Rockhound..." Rockhound: "No, I'm serious, things didn't work out too well for the coyote." Truman: "Well we have much better rockets than the coyote."
In our limited understanding of spacetime, the illusion of a "fim orbit" is reassuring but fallacious. The notion that lassoing a rock would be financially profitable has a lot of holes in it. It assumes technology will not achieve the means to escape Earth using less expensive methods. It also indicates we MUST continue to feed an insatiable greed for precious metals. Sure we have exploding population growth--but despite our confidence that humans are superior, we should not infer we are exempt from natural selection. We are always one global catastrophe away from an unpredictable reduction in numbers. I'm sure money might be better applied to more productive endeavors. Personally, I've always been interested in focusing reseach on discovery of blue electrons because they sound so pretty.