Broadly, the administration envisions sending a probe as soon as 2017 to capture a 25-foot, 500-ton asteroid and tug it near the moon – possibly to a spot about 277,000 miles from Earth that would use competing gravitational forces to allow it to “sit” there. Astronauts flying NASA’s new Orion capsule and Space Launch System rocket then would visit it to take samples and possibly set foot on its surface.
This plan is getting pushback because its not a return to the moon or a Mars landing plan. But the reality is that this idea is all NASA can afford given the cost involved with the Senatorial ( or Space, take your pick) Launch System A Saturn V + class heavy lift direct ascent launch system
The lack of resistance is tied to Senate support of the Space Launch System. Senators from key NASA states – Florida, Texas and Alabama – pushed President Barack Obama to build it, and the asteroid mission is seen as a way to give purpose to the rocket, once criticized as a “rocket to nowhere.”
Illustrative of that point was the initial reaction of Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.
“NASA should continue to explore the universe and challenge scientific and technical boundaries,” he said in a statement. “However, NASA should maintain focus on its core mission and continue development of the Space Launch System so that it will be ready for any future NASA mission.”
So my question is, why the SLS, don’t get me wrong some of the SLS related work like resurrecting the Saturn V F1 engine (as I pointed to a few days ago) is a good thing, but reality is it should be part of getting a commercial venture to back development. NASA shoulddevelop Orion and its support module, but the booster should be gov’t sponsored / stimulated effort as part of a get to the moon, Mars, big asteroids plan, in support of the commercial civilian space efforts.
If you look at all the recently proposed and ongoing civilian efforts and roll in appropriate gov’mnt support you can see a very robust human and robotic space development plan emerge.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-04-nasa-chief-asteroid-agency.html/