Tucked inside President Barack Obama's proposed federal budget for next fiscal year is about $100 million to jump start a program scientists say is the next step towards humans establishing a permanent settlement in space.
That, at least, is what U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson says we're likely to see when the White House unveils its fiscal year 2014 budget around the middle of next week. Nelson has been briefed by scientists. And NASA's decision to ask for funding for the project was first reported by Aviation Week magazine in an article published last week.
In a nutshell, the plan in NASA's hands calls for catching an asteroid with a robotic spacecraft and towing it back toward Earth, where it would then be placed in a stable orbit around the moon.
Next, astronauts aboard America's Orion capsule, powered into space by a new monster rocket, would travel to the asteroid where there could be mining activities, research into ways of deflecting an asteroid from striking Earth, and testing to develop technology for a trip to deep space and Mars.