- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 7, 2013

NASA plans to position a robotic spaceship to lasso a small asteroid and place it near the moon for astronauts to explore, Sen. Bill Nelson revealed Friday.

The 500-ton, 25-foot asteroid would be captured in 2019; then, using a space capsule now in development, a crew of astronauts would nuzzle up next to the rock in 2021 for a spacewalking mission, according to a government document obtained by the Associated Press.

Mr. Nelson, Florida Democrat, said the plan would speed up the existing mission to land men on an asteroid by bringing it closer to Earth, The Daily Mail reports.

Mr. Nelson, who is also a former astronaut, said on Friday that President Obama is putting $100 million for the mission in the 2014 budget that comes out next week, The Mail reports.

The taxpayer money would be used to find the right asteroid for the project.

“It really is a clever concept,” Mr. Nelson said in a press conference in Orlando, Fla. “Go find your ideal candidate for an asteroid. Go get it robotically and bring it back.”

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