Obama Wants To Spend $100 Million To Lasso An Asteroid — Here’s How It Could Actually Work

Obama Asteroid

There’s been an increased interest in asteroids ever since a meteor exploded in the sky above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in February, an event almost immediately followed by the closest known flyby of a football-sized asteroid

That’s why NASA hopes to invest a significant chunk of federal money into a plan that involves “bagging” a small asteroid and dragging it back into orbit around the moon, later to be visited by astronauts who will bring back samples.  

See the plan to lasso an asteroid > 

In President Obama’s 2014 budget proposal, unveiled on Wednesday, the space agency called for a spending total of $17.7 billion, with $105 million of that money dedicated to identifying potentially hazardous asteroids, NASA said in a news conference on Wednesday. 

Of that, $78 million would go toward the asteroid retrieval initiative

If successful, this would be the “first-ever mission to identify, capture, and relocate an asteroid,” NASA administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement

Though wrought with unexpected challenges, the plan to wrangle a fast-rotating space rock actually seems pretty simple on paper. 

NASA released an animation of the operation, which we’ve broken into slides. 

[slideshow]
[slide
permalink=”the-first-thing-nasa-has-to-do-is-identify-a-suitable-asteroid-target-the-ideal-space-rock-is-one-thats-small-about-25-feet-wide-and-close-to-earth-1″
title=”The first thing NASA has to do is identify a suitable asteroid target. The ideal space rock is one that’s small (about 25 feet wide) and close to Earth.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5165dfcceab8ea6b72000007″
caption=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”the-size-of-the-space-rock-important-if-something-were-to-go-wrong-this-asteroid-will-be-small-enough-to-burn-up-before-it-enters-earths-atmosphere-2″
title=”The size of the space rock important. If something were to go wrong, this asteroid will be small enough to burn up before it enters Earth’s atmosphere.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5165b66feab8ea020f000002″
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”next-a-robotic-spaceship-will-be-launched-and-used-to-capture-the-asteroid-3″
title=”Next, a robotic spaceship will be launched and used to capture the asteroid.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5165b66c6bb3f7861900000e”
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”the-spacecraft-will-be-a-key-test-of-solar-electric-propulsion-or-sep-technologies-4″
title=”The spacecraft will be a key test of solar electric propulsion, or SEP, technologies.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5165b66c69bedd8824000003″
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”sep-uses-solar-panels-to-turn-sunlight-into-electricity-the-electricity-powers-an-engine-that-propels-the-spacecraft-this-isnt-a-new-concept–its-already-used-on-some-communication-satellites–but-improving-it-will-be-crucial-for-long-term-human-space-exploration-5″
title=”SEP uses solar panels to turn sunlight into electricity. The electricity powers an engine that propels the spacecraft. This isn’t a new concept — it’s already used on some communication satellites — but improving it will be crucial for long-term human space exploration.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5165b66ceab8eab50c000007″
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”once-the-spacecraft-meets-up-with-the-asteroid-a-difficult-task-lies-ahead-6″
title=”Once the spacecraft meets up with the asteroid, a difficult task lies ahead.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5165b66cecad047c23000002″
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”to-begin-with-the-asteroid-will-be-spinning-the-spacecraft-will-have-to-stop-the-object-from-whipping-around-in-order-to-catch-it-7″
title=”To begin with, the asteroid will be spinning. The spacecraft will have to stop the object from whipping around in order to catch it.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5165b67069bedd5427000000″
caption=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”next-the-spacecraft-will-throw-out-some-type-of-bag-to-capture-the-asteroid-8″
title=”Next, the spacecraft will throw out some type of “bag” to capture the asteroid.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5165b66feab8eabe0e000004″
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”the-spacecraft-will-then-drag-the-asteroid-into-orbit-around-the-moon-9″
title=”The spacecraft will then drag the asteroid into orbit around the moon.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5165b671eab8ea030c000006″
caption=””
credit=””
credit_href=””
]
[slide
permalink=”by-2021-nasa-plans-to-use-the-orion-spacecraft-to-send-astronauts-to-the-captured-asteroid-10″
title=”By 2021, NASA plans to use the Orion spacecraft to send astronauts to the captured asteroid.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5165b673ecad044625000003″
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”the-objective-is-to-bring-back-samples-of-the-asteroid-11″
title=”The objective is to bring back samples of the asteroid.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5165b676ecad043e2300000d”
caption=””
credit=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”the-plan-combines-several-goals-to-test-new-space-technologies-to-study-methods-for-pushing-a-hazardous-asteroid-away-from-earth-in-the-future-and-to-lay-the-groundwork-for-planting-astronauts-on-mars-in-the-next-two-decades-12″
title=”The plan combines several goals: To test new space technologies, to study methods for pushing a hazardous asteroid away from Earth in the future, and to lay the groundwork for planting astronauts on Mars in the next two decades.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5165b67769bedd5727000003″
caption=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”one-thing-this-mission-is-not-designed-for-is-planetary-defense-ed-lu-a-physicist-and-former-nasa-astronaut-said-at-a-congressional-hearing-on-wednesday-april-10-13″
title=”One thing this mission is not designed for is planetary defence, Ed Lu, a physicist and former NASA astronaut, said at a congressional hearing on Wednesday, April 10.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5165b67469beddb02300000d”
caption=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”although-nasa-has-requested-78-million-for-the-asteroid-initiative-in-the-2014-budget-the-total-cost-of-the-mission-will-be-much-steeper-14″
title=”Although NASA has requested $78 million for the asteroid initiative in the 2014 budget, the total cost of the mission will be much steeper.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5165b6726bb3f7ad1b000003″
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]
[slide
permalink=”the-final-figure-is-closer-to-11-billion-a-senior-administration-official-told-nbcnews-alan-boyle-15″
title=”The final figure is closer to $1.1 billion, a senior administration official told NBCNews’ Alan Boyle.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5165b677ecad047a23000004″
caption=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”in-addition-to-providing-valuable-information-about-preventing-the-earth-from-being-hit-the-plan-opens-the-door-for-mining-asteroids-two-companies–planetary-resources-and-deep-space-industries–have-already-come-forward-with-plans-to-do-just-that-16″
title=”In addition to providing valuable information about preventing the Earth from being hit, the plan opens the door for mining asteroids. Two companies — Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries — have already come forward with plans to do just that.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5165b678eab8eae90e000002″
caption=””
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]
[slide
permalink=”asteroids-could-provide-valuable-resources-17″
title=”Asteroids could provide valuable resources.”
content=”Here’s Another Way To Mine An Asteroid >
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5165dbe56bb3f72063000001″
caption=””
credit=””
credit_href=””
]
[/slideshow]