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Need for an asteroid-catching space craft could boost NASA Glenn funding
The Cleveland research center would develop the propulsion system under President Obama's budget
by WKSU's KEVIN NIEDERMIER


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Kevin Niedermier
 
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Cleveland’s NASA Glenn Research Center would develop the engine for an asteroid-catching space craft under President Barack Obama’s budget proposal. The president’s budget, introduced today, increases NASA Glenn’s overall funding by $38 million and would help make the facility part of the space agency’s long-term future.                                                                  
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The robotic space craft NASA and President Obama envision would travel to an asteroid, capture it and push it back to the moon’s orbit, where astronauts could more easily study it. The mission is projected for sometime around 2021.

NASA Glenn’s job is to develop a bigger, more powerful version of its solar-electric propulsion engine, which Glenn developed for robotic probes to land on asteroids and to explore comets. Mike Wall is a senior writer for Space.com. He says capturing an asteroid is doable, but will be very difficult.    

“Asteroids are spinning, so they’ll have to figure out how to stop them. And, because the asteroid is so large, they’ll have to figure out how to push it back to the lunar orbit and guide it very precisely.”                                                

The mission could lead to technology to prevent asteroids from hitting the earth, and for manned deep-space exploration. While President Obama’s budget increases NASA Glenn’s overall funding, it decreases the facility’s funding for biological and physical research.

The budget still needs Congressional approval.                                                                               

Related Links & Resources
Asteroid capture feasibility story from Space.com

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